Diletta Tega

Looking for a European Meaning to Secularism: The ECtHR Jurisprudence on Freedom of Religion

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Principle of Secularism, European Court of Human Rights, Religious Symbol, Public Space

In order to better evaluate the basis of the "Lautsi v. Italy" decision, the Author analyzes the previous ECTHR jurisprudence on the topic of religious symbols and the State's duty to respect the right of parents to ensure education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions. First of all the Author asserts that the "Lautsi" decision soundly departs from the aforementioned precedents in the sense that the Court for the first time does not take into account the so-called State margin of appreciation. Second, she underlines that the reasoning followed by the Court seems to fail to take into account the Italian Constitutional Court's jurisprudence on the meaning of secularism - in Italian "laicità". The Author argues that indeed the Court seems to have devised a European notion of secularism that is far too imprinted on the French model i.e. a model that cannot be shared by other countries because secularism is deeply entrenched in the specific constitutional history of each single European country. The final point that the Author makes is that, in handing down the "Lautsi" judgment, the ECTHR acted more like a national Constitutional Court rather than a supranational court.

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