This site is dedicated to reporting and commenting upon issues involving freedom of conscience, religion, or belief throughout the member states of the Council of Europe, with particular focus on the work of the European Court of Human Rights and its predecessor tribunal, the European Commission of Human Rights. We are working to make this site the definitive source of information for scholars and others interested in understanding and having some influence upon the work of the Court in this vital area. Since the decisions on the important issues pending before the Court will shape the basic contours of freedom of religion or belief for years to come, not only throughout Europe, but throughout the world as the Court and its opinions become increasingly influential, the kind of work envisioned by, and carried out by, the Strasbourg Consortium is particularly critical.
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On 16 June the Court delivered its Grand Chamber judgments in the first cases concerning the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. There are currently more than one thousand individual applications pending before the Court which were lodged by persons displaced during the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. The first two cases are these:
Chiragov and Others v. Armenia (no. 13216/05) - Grand Chamber Judgment 16 June 2015.
Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan (no. 40167/06) - Grand Chamber Judgment 16 June 2015.
Hämäläinen v. Finland (no. 37359/09) - Grand Chamber Judgment 16 July 2014. The Court upheld a 2012 Fourth Section judgment regarding civil unions. The applicant is a Finnish national who underwent male-to-female gender reassignment surgery in 2009. Having previously changed her first names, she wished to obtain a new identity number that would indicate her female gender in her official documents. However, in order to do so her marriage to a woman would have had to be turned into a civil partnership, which she refused to accept. She complained under Articles 8, 12, and 14. However, the Grand Chamber agreed that there had been no violation of the applicant's rights.
Greek-Catholic Parish of Lupeni and Others v. Romania (no. 76943/11) - Chamber Judgment 19 May 2015. The case concerned the restitution of places of worship belonging to the Greek-Catholic Church which were transferred to the Orthodox Church under the totalitarian regime, and more specifically the question of the application of a special law to determine the legal status of such property. The Court's Third Section found no violation of or discrimination concerning the right to a fair hearing, but did find violation concerning the length of proceedings. The Romanian courts had weighed up the interests at stake and delivered detailed judgments containing reasons. Reiterating the State’s role as the neutral and impartial organizer of the practice of religions, the Court noted that the Constitutional Court had emphasized the need to protect the freedom of religious communities and the freedom of others, while having due regard to the historical background to the case.
M.E. v. Sweden (no. 71398/12) - Grand Chamber Judgment 8 April 2015. The complaint of a Libyan national that his expulsion from Sweden would place him at risk of persecution and ill-treatment in Libya in part because he is a homosexual was rejected as a violation of Article 3 (prohibiting torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) by the Court's Fifth Section, and a unanimous Grand Chamber ordered the application stricken from its list of cases.
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Baydar v. Turkey (no. 25632/13) - Communicated 17 November 2014. The applicant is a conscientious objector to required military service.
A.S.R. v. Turkey (no. 60079/14) - Communicated 13 November 2014. The applicant converted to Christianity while living in Iran and complains that he is at risk of being returned to Iran.