In Europe, an interesting shock has been caused regarding Right of Advertising (and for that matter, Right of Freedom of Expression) and religious sentiments.

The European Tribunal of Human Rights TEDH has decided on a case, in which an advertiser of Lithuanian clothes used images of Jesus and of the Virgin Mary. It is the judgment of the TEDH, 30th January 2018 (Sekmadienis / Lithuania).

Commercial Publicity and Religious Symbols. Public Morals…Can they impede their use?

A Lithuanian clothing company made a publicity campaign, in 2012, using the following images:

• A young man, similar to topical images of Jesus, but with Jeans and tattoos. The advert stated: «Jesus, go pants!»
• Young woman, similar to topical images of Mary, with “hippy” aspects, a white dress and flowers on her head. With the phrase: “Maria, go pants»
• Both young people together, with the same clothes and accessories. The phrase said «Jesus, Maria! What are you wearing?»

The authority for the Protection of the Lithuanian Consumer fined them for infringing on public morals. The company exhausted the line of resources in Lithuania and ended up presenting a claim before the TEDH, under the European Convention of Human Rights. This one has given reason to the company.

The TEDH has understood that:

Freedom of expression, in a democratic society, includes the broadcasting of information and ideas that can offend shock or trouble anyone.
• The adverts and expressions used are not freely offensive against religious feeling, nor incite hate on a basis of religious sentiment, nor attack a religion in an abusive manner.

Therefore, the penalty of the Lithuanian Government is contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, around the Freedom of Expression.

Santiago Nadal