Tuesday, February 06, 2018

European Court Upholds Company's Religiously Objectionable Ads

In Case of Sekmadienis Ltd. v. Lithuania, (ECHR, Jan. 30, 2018), the European Court of Human Rights in a Chamber Judgment held that Lithuania's State Consumer Rights Protection Authority violated a clothing company's freedom of expression when it imposed a fine because of a series of the company's ads that were seen as offending Christians. The Economist, reporting on the decision, described the ads:
The case refers to a Kalinkin campaign in 2012 which featured a bare-chested young man and a woman, both with halos: the man was sporting jeans and tattoos, and the female figure wore a white dress with a string of beads. The captions consisted of lines such as: “Jesus, what trousers!”, “Dear Mary, what a dress!” and “Jesus, Mary, what are you wearing?”
The European Court concluded that Lithuanian courts "failed to strike a fair balance between, on the one hand, the protection of public morals and the rights of religious people, and, on the other hand, the applicant company’s right to freedom of expression."  The Court issued a press release summarizing the decision. Chamber judgments may be appealed to the Grand Chamber.