Non-Marriage Life Partnership

European Court of Human Rights, Judgment of 23.09.2010 -EGMR 1620/03

Facts: The applicant was employed as organist and choir director at a Catholic parish since 1983. His employment contract provided that, amongst other things, a gross violation of religious principles would constitute a for reason termination without notice.

In 1994, the plaintiff separated from his wife, with whom he has two children. The separation was announced in January 1995. Thereafter, the complainant lived in the same house as his life companion. After the complainant's children had stated in kindergarten that their father would become a dad again, the parish terminated the employment of the complainant on the ground that he had violated the duties of loyalty for the church service under Art. 5 GrO. According to the principles of the Catholic Church on the insolubility of marriage, the complainant committed not only adultery when he had an extramarital relationship with another woman, who was soon expecting a child, but also bigamy.

Judgment: After having exhausted domestic legal remedies, the Court declared the dismissal to be unlawful. The violation was not serious enough to justify a dismissal, particularly in regard to the right to privacy.

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