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2010-09-01 - Court of cassation, n. 10-80.584

Public space · France · Discrimination · Religious symbol

The councilwoman required to remove her Christian cross during a city council meeting was discriminated

Key facts of the case - During a meeting of the town council, the mayor asked a councilwoman to stop wearing and displaying her Christian cross, arguing that this was a laic place. In addition he decided to refuse her the right to speak until she removes it. She lodged an appeal claiming that she had been discriminated on religious grounds.

Main reasoning of the court - The Court of cassation deems here that the applicant was deprived of her right of speech because of her wearing an insignia revealing her belonging to the Christian faith. It is not established that the wearing of a cross by this councilwoman created a trouble enabling the mayor to use his public order power and deprive her of the right to express herself as a councilwoman. Moreover, there was no legal provisions, yet required by the article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights to limit the right to manifest one’s religion, enabling the mayor to prohibit the elected members from disclosing their religious belonging through the wearing of such insignia.
The mayor is accordingly convicted of the offense of discrimination by a person holding public authority, under Article 225-1 and 432-7 of the penal code and Article L. 2121-16 of the code of the local public authorities.

See the decision: Court of cassation, 01-09-2010, n. 10-80.584