The Council of Europe has overwhelmingly backed a report into intolerance against Christians, highlighting a need to improve “the principle of reasonable accommodation”.
The body, which represents 47 European countries, stressed that Christians in particular need to be protected so that they are not penalised for their beliefs.
The report cites a number of cases of discrimination from across Europe, including two high profile cases backed by The Christian Institute.
It highlights that although freedom of religion is protected there is still hostility towards religion in Europe, including acts of violence and vandalism as well as “limitations to the expression of faith”.
It urges member states to “promote reasonable accommodation”, “uphold freedom of conscience in the workplace” and “respect the rights of parents to provide their children with an education in conformity with their religious or philosophical convictions”.
The document goes on to call for states to uphold, “the fundamental right to freedom of expression by ensuring national legislation does not unduly limit religiously motivated speech”.
Evidence for intolerance of Christian belief in society is provided by referring to several legal cases in the UK and abroad.
It cites the case of Lillian Ladele, a registrar supported by The Christian Institute after she was pushed out of her job for her Christian beliefs on marriage.
The report notes that the European Court of Human Rights, “reiterated the importance of protecting the right to freedom of religion” but ultimately dismissed her claim.
The document also references the case of Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who were also supported by the Institute.
The UK Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Mr and Mrs Bull, who were sued over their policy of only allowing heterosexual married couples to share a double bed.
A homosexual couple took the Bulls to court after they declined to let out a room because of their commitment to biblical marriage.
Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of The Christian Institute, welcomed the report.
Mr Calvert said: “This report is timely given the increasing official intolerance shown towards mainstream Christian beliefs and the people that hold them.
“Northern Ireland is currently consulting on a conscience clause after a Christian-run bakery was sued for its commitment to biblical truth on marriage.
“Reasonable accommodation of conscience is a protection long overdue and I’m delighted that the Council of Europe has recognised this.
“I hope that politicians across Europe will now act to endorse this call to protect freedom of conscience”.