European Court of Human Rights to hear Covid-19 worship ban challenges

The European Court of Human Rights will hear legal challenges against governments that completely banning public worship in the name of protecting public health.

A case is due to come before the court regarding bans which were imposed in Greece and Croatia during 2020. Ireland had the longest ban on public worship in the whole of Europe, although no case is being taken in respect of Ireland.

Robert Clarke, Deputy Director (Advocacy) for ADF International says freedom of religion and belief is a human right that must be afforded the highest protection.

“This right is protected in European law, yet throughout the pandemic, we saw multiple governments across Europe impose disproportionate bans on opening places of worship. There is no reason why authorities could not find solutions that protect both public health and communal worship. For people of faith, worshipping together can be as important as receiving food and water. We hope that the European Court will uphold the rights of all people to live out their faith, as has been seen in Scotland, Switzerland and elsewhere,” he said.

A challenge taken by Declan Ganley against the ban here is currently pending before the courts in Ireland. Leaving one’s home to attend a worship service could have incurred a potential penalty of a fine, or up to six months in prison.