July 13th, 2023 by James Goudie KC

The freedom to (1) manifest religious belief AND (2) express views relating to that belief are essential rights in a democracy and are protected by the ECHR and the Equality Act 2010. The question on manifestation is whether there is a sufficiently close or direct nexus between an individual religious beliefs and any particular expression of views. In HIGGS v FARMOR’S SCHOOL (2023) EAT 89 the President of the EAT, from paragraph 79 in the Judgment reaffirms that in considering disciplinary action against the individual it is necessary to determine whether the reason for taking the action is (1) because of, or related to, the manifestation of beliefs, which renders the action prohibited, OR (2) because the manner of the manifestation was objectionable, which may make the action permissible. The freedom to manifest belief is not absolute. It is a qualified right. It can be limited to the extent that the limitation is prescribed by law, in pursuit of a legitimate aim, and necessary in a democratic society. A proportionate balance has to be struck between an interference with fundamental rights and the legitimate interests of others.

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