Geneva banned religious services and most religious events but allowed commercial businesses to remain open. A legal challenge was filed against the Geneva ban on religious services and events as the state could not prove that the churches were the cause of any coronavirus spread.

“GENEVA (4 December 2020 Geneva’s total ban on religious services and events has been suspended by the Swiss Constitutional Chamber of the Canton of GenevaThe court has yet to decide whether the ban is a violation of the right to freedom of religion after a group of concerned citizens filed a legal challenge against it. While the suspension does not serve as a final decision, it indicates that the ban is not proportionate and means that religious services and gatherings are now permitted until a final judgment is handed down. The Chamber indicated that the likelihood of the case ultimately succeeding is ‘high or very high’ . . . ‘Restrictions on fundamental rights must always be proportionate and proven to be truly necessary. Given that other public gatherings are still permitted, we do not see the proportionality of this restriction – it targets religious groups in a discriminatory way. That is why we decided to challenge it in court. We are hopeful that the courts will ultimately recognize this as a violation of fundamental rights and that a solution will be found that protects the rights of all citizens of Switzerland and sets a good benchmark for the rest of Europe,’  said Dr. Samuel Sommaruga, on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed . . .”  Read full ADF report.

“The ban on freedom of religious gatherings was placed on November 1 to help stop the spread of coronavirus. However, it was lifted on December 3, when the Constitutional Chamber of the Canton of Geneva ruled the state could not prove churches were the cause of coronavirus’s spread . . . Attorney Steve Alder, who filed the suit, said the mandate was one of the most extensive public restrictions on religious assemblies in Europe. He pointed out that the ban was unjust because the city allowed other public gatherings to occur . . . ” Read the CBN article.

“‘Enforcing the ban is a violation of the right to freedom of religion as protected in the Swiss Constitution and by international human rights standards. It disproportionately targets the activities of religious groups over commercial activities. With multiple religious groups in Geneva voicing their concerns over the disproportionality of the ban, we hope that the authorities will ultimately agree on a solution that protects everyone’s right to practice their religion in line with international law. The suspension of the ban is a welcome step in this direction,’ he said on the ruling from the Swiss court . . . Another attorney with the non-profit Alliance Defending Freedom, Jennifer Lea, also noted on the significance of the ruling, stating ‘Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and governments seeking to restrict it, carry the burden of proving the restriction is truly necessary and that a less restrictive approach would not work . . .'” Read the Christian Headlines article.

Steven Alder

Jennifer Lea

Dr. Samuel Sommaruga