Secular Society set to appeal to EC over UK employment law

The National Secular Society is planning to complain to the European Commission that excessive religious exemptions in UK employment law discriminates against atheists, despite a refusal by the High Court this week to declare that the law also discriminates against homosexuals.

Last week, a group of trade unions failed to convince the High Court that the UK's 2003 Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations is incompatible with the EU Employment Directive. The unions contended that the UK law is flawed because it fails to protect gay and lesbian workers from discrimination by "faith-based" employers.

The essence of the society's complaint is that the religious exemptions granted by the Government in the regulations go far beyond what the EU directive permits.

If the commission upholds the complaint, it can require the Government to rectify job decisions.

The society's executive director Keith Porteous Wood said: "These regulations will actually put more people at risk from discrimination. It is not just homosexuals, but millions of non-believers who could be denied jobs with employers with a religious ethos."

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