The story broke out in 2014 in Trento: a religious institute had not renewed the contract of a teacher suspected of having a partner. The supreme court upheld the school’s sentence on appeal and compensation to the person concerned
Religious freedom cannot be invoked as a pretext for discrimination. This is confirmed by the order with which the Court of Cassation Labor Section rejected the appeal of a Catholic religious institute of Trento already condemned in 2017 by the local Court of Appeal for not having renewed the contract of a teacher after having learned of her alleged homosexuality . According to the supreme judges, there are provisions, including constitutional ones, at the basis of the freedom of organization of the religious institute but they do not allow for the legitimacy of openly discriminatory conduct.
The case born in 2014
The case dates back to 2014. I was summoned by the mother superior after the contract expired. She asked me about my sexual orientation because she thought there were rumors that I had a partner. And she wanted me to tell her if it was true, otherwise she would have had a hard time renewing my contract, the professor said. The nun, reached by telephone, had confirmed to the 27th Hour of the Corrier
e, of having chosen to block the contract to protect the school environment. The problem exists; the Catholic school has its own characteristic and a set of educational and guiding aspects: it seems to us that we must defend it at all costs, he added. The teacher, who in previous years had always seen her contract renewed, had turned to the labor judges assisted by the lawyer Alexander Schuster to see her constitutional rights protected not to be discriminated against in the name of (alleged) sexual orientation.
The conviction on appeal of the religious institute and compensation
On 7 March 2017, the Court of Appeal of Trento found that the conduct of the nuns had been discriminatory and had condemned the religious institute, also because of the retaliatory and defamatory nature of its conduct, to pay 30 thousand euros in moral damages and 13,329 of pecuniary damage to the teacher, in addition to ten thousand euros each to the CGIL of Trentino and to the Radical Association Certi Rights. Now the Supreme Court confirms the appeal sentence and condemns the Institute to pay an additional € 9,870 in legal fees. Even in religious organizations, people have the right to live their private life freely and to be respected in their dignity. The decision of the Supreme Court clearly contrasts with the assessment made by the then President of the Autonomous Province of Trento Ugo Rossi, who investigated the facts and concluded that there were no offenses and that no measures should be taken against a public service school. Today we know that lawyer Schuster has not commented.
The similar decision of the American Court
A similar principle was reiterated last year by the US Supreme Court, when it ruled that the ban on firing someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity is part of the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex introduced by the Civil Rights Act of the United States. 1964 (until June 15, 2020, it was legal in more than half of the US states to fire workers who were gay, bisexual or transgender as the New York Times). Religious freedom is therefore not unlimited, but ends where the freedom of others to live their sexual orientation and gender identity begins.
November 2, 2021 (change November 2, 2021 | 19:40)
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