Belief in Marxism/Trotskyism not protected by Regulations
In Kelly and others v Unison, a tribunal, following the guidance set out by the EAT in Grainger plc v Nicholson, found that a belief in Marxism/Trotskyism does not constitute a philosophical belief under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003.
The four claimants are all members of the Socialist Party and hold views of society based on Marxism/Trotskyism. They claimed discrimination on grounds of religion or belief when disciplinary action was taken against them following the publication and distribution of leaflets objecting to Unison’s policy, containing images reflecting their beliefs which some members found to be offensive, and who said so publicly at the conference, from the rostrum.
The tribunal referred to the EAT‘s judgment in Grainger plc v Nicholson which provides guidance on interpreting whether a ‘belief’ constitutes a ‘philosophical belief’ within the meaning of the 2003 Regulations. Here the EAT said that a political belief may qualify, but not if the views are repugnant; and that one of the key considerations is whether the beliefs are worthy of respect in a democratic society and are not incompatible with human dignity.
The tribunal decided that the claimants’ beliefs included resorting to revolution and a willingness to engage in unlawful strikes. As such, the political beliefs of Marxism/Trotskyism and the Socialist Party conflict with the fundamental rights of others and the dignity of the individual. They are not worthy of respect in a democratic society and did not constitute a belief under the 2003 Regulations.
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