ECHR ruling paves way for profits by hurting churchgoers - Lithuanian bishop

Archbishop Gintaras Grušas

The ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the advertisement with Jesus and Mary dangerously paves way for businesses to profit by insulting religious members of the society and desecrating their religion, says Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, the chairman of the Lithuanian Conference of Bishops.

"The ECHR ruling paves way for businesses to make a profit a the expense of dignity of other members of the society. The advertisement, which was the subject of the court ruling, has nothing to do with criticism of religion, difference of opinions or competition of ideas in a free democratic society. In the case, the court failed to notice desecration of the images of Jesus and Mary for commercial and profit purposes," Grušas said in a press release.

Earlier this week, the Strasbourg court found that Lithuania's authorities "gave absolute primacy to protecting the feelings of religious people, without adequately taking into account the applicant company's right to freedom of expression" in the assessment of advertisement campaign of clothing of designer Robert Kalinkin.

The advertisement campaign of clothes by designer Robert Kalinkin , which was run in the fall of 2012, featured a young long-haired man and a woman in a white dress. The advertisements contained the captions "Jesus, what trousers!", "Dear Mary, what a dress!", and "Jesus [and] Mary, what are you wearing!".

The then State Non-Food Products Inspectorate imposed a fine on the advertisers after receiving complaints and Lithuanian courts stated that the ads were contrary to public morals.

The court ruled that the advertisements of the Kalinkin line did not seem excessively offensive or blasphemous, they also do not fuel religious hatred.

According to the last population census in 2011, 77 percent of people in Lithuania identify themselves as Roman Catholics and another 4 percent are Orthodox.

Source: BNS
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