European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

Lithuania: Jesus and Mary fashion adverts complaint set for human rights court ruling

A company, fined  for referring to Christian religious icons in clothing advertisements, will find out tomorrow if human rights judges back its complaint against Lithuania

Decision: Fining a clothing company for its “Jesus” and “Mary” advertising campaign
breached its freedom of expression

Sekmadienis Ltd. v. Lithuania (no. 69317/14)

The applicant company, Sekmadienis Ltd., is a limited liability company established under Lithuanian law with its registered office in Vilnius.

The case concerns the company’s complaint about being fined for advertising clothes using references to Jesus and Mary.

In late 2012, the company ran a clothing advertisement campaign using a male and female model with halos, the man in jeans and with tattoos, and the female with a white dress and a string of beads. The ads were followed by the captions, “Jesus, what trousers!”, “Dear Mary, what a dress!” and “Jesus and Mary, what are you wearing!”.

Following complaints received by the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority, the company was fined in 2013 for publishing advertisements which were contrary to public morals, in breach of national advertising law.

The company’s subsequent complaint to the regional administrative court was dismissed, as was an appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court. An application by that court’s president to reopen proceedings was refused.

The applicant company relies on Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) of the European Convention, alleging that the fine for breach of public morals could not be considered necessary in a democratic society.

 

 

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