Switzerland: Court rules against paraplegic wheelchair-user’s cinema access complaint

A wheelchair user’s inability to access a Geneva cinema did not breach the European convention’s prohibition of discrimination.

In its decision in the case of Glaisen v. Switzerland (application no. 40477/13) the European Court of Human Rights has by a majority declared the application inadmissible.

The decision is final.

The applicant Marc Glaisen, who is paraplegic, uses a wheelchair. His complaint concerned his inability to gain access to a cinema in Geneva.

The court was of the view that Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) could not be construed as requiring access to a specific cinema to see a given film in a situation where access to other cinemas in the vicinity was possible.

On 4 October 2008, Glaisen went on his own to the Pathé Rialto cinema in Geneva to see a film which was not being shown in any other cinema in the city.

As the building housing the cinema was not adapted to wheelchair users, the applicant was refused access. The operating company relied on internal safety instructions, turning him away before he could even buy a ticket.

On 28 September 2009, arguing that he had been the victim of discrimination, Glaisen brought proceedings against that company.

His appeals were rejected by the Court of First Instance of the Canton of Geneva on 15 September 2011, then by the Civil Division of the Court of Justice and lastly by the Federal Court.

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