Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 July 2020
The chapter shows that there is a general right to conscientious exemption in UK law. There are at least two rules of law which ground the right. These are (a) the requirement that public authorities and legislation (both primary and subordinate) comply with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion under the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA); and (b) the prohibition of indirect discrimination on the basis of religion or belief in employment and provision of goods and services arising under anti-discrimination legislation. The chapter tentatively sets out another rule of law which may ground the general right. This is the prohibition of discrimination on the ground of religion in the enjoyment of Convention Rights arising under Art 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights (‘ECHR’). The reason this ground is tentative is that it has not been relied on in UK courts although it has been successfully relied on in the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’) to receive an exemption from a legislative rule. Without explicit UK case law it is unwise to declare that this rule of law is another ground of the general right in UK law.