The Rainbow Project has expressed its disappointment at the European Court of Human Rights decision on Lee v. the United Kingdom. The Court ruled today that because Convention Rights had not been invoked during previous hearings, that the application was inadmissible.
Speaking on the ruling, Director of The Rainbow Project John O’Doherty said: “This case was taken against the UK government for its failure to protect Mr Lee from discrimination. The County Court and the NI Court of Appeal confirmed the scope of anti-discrimination law in Northern Ireland. When a commercial business is providing services to the public, they cannot discriminate against their customers or clients on any grounds protected by equality law. The subsequent decision of the UK Supreme court created legal uncertainty, not just in Northern Ireland but, across the UK. Unfortunately, with today’s decision, that uncertainty will remain.”
“The Rainbow Project affirms our fundamental belief in freedom of religion for all people, however, this freedom cannot be extrapolated into privately owned business and used as a justification for discrimination. Fundamental human rights exist for people, not for for-profit businesses. We must ensure that there cannot be a permissive use of legislation by privately owned businesses, which allows for discrimination on the basis of any protected characteristics including race, sexual orientation, faith or political opinion.”
“While today’s decision brings this case to a close, there remains a number of questions around what protections exist for LGBTQIA+ people when accessing goods, facilities and services following the Supreme Court decision in October 2018. The Rainbow Project would like to express our thanks and solidarity with Gareth Lee. As we consider the wider impact of today’s decision and the previous ruling by the Supreme Court The Rainbow Project affirms its commitment to ensure equality for all and an end to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”