22nd September 2007
Lydia Playfoot was told by her school that she was not allowed to wear her purity ring, a sign of her commitment to sexual purity before marriage, as it broke the school’s uniform policy. Lydia and others had been wearing the rings for 18 months. The uniform policy prohibited all jewellery except ear studs, yet Muslim students were still allowed to wear headscarves, and Sikhs to wear Kara bracelets. When Lydia refused to remove the ring, she was put in isolation.
The High Court rejected Lydia’s claim for religious discrimination, concluding that Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion), was not engaged, despite the fact that it is intended to protect freedom to manifest religion subject only to ‘such limitations…. necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the rights and freedoms of others.” The judge concluded that wearing the ring was not an essential part of the Christian faith, and was therefore not a freedom that was protected by the law.