Glor v. Switzerland
Petition by Sven Glor alleging violations of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Analysis of article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with Article 7 (right to respect for private and family life); Right to private life; Reasonable accommodation of a physical disability; Prohibtion against discrimination on grounds of a physical disability; Prohibtion against discrimination based on level of physical disability.
Glor, was declared unfit for mandatory military service or the alternative civil service offered to conscientious objector due to diabetes. He was ordered to pay a tax for exemption from military service, as he fell below the 40% disabled threshold for exemption from the tax. The tax was for a non-negligible amount assessed over several years. Glor claimed a violation of his rights under Article 14 in conjunction with Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights for discrimination on the basis of a disability.
According to the court, Glor’s ECHR rights had been violated. For discrimination under Article 14 to violate the ECHR, discrimination must fall within the ambit, or reach of a right protected by another Article. They held that notion of private life in Article 7 included protection of an individual’s physical integrity. A state tax assessed based on inability to serve in the military because of a medical condition falls within the reach of Article 7.
The Court found no reasonable justification for distinguishing between those unfit for military service and exempt from the tax, and those unfit for service, but liable for the tax. It was not in the community’s best interests to make Glor pay a tax based on a circumstance he could not control. The Court also questioned why he could not be given a less physically demanding assignment in the military, or be permitted to perform civil service.
Keywords: Glor v. Switzerland, Disability, Right
Glor had not asked for damages. He received €3,650 for legal costs.
This is the first case in which the European Court of Human Rights found discrimination under Article 14 on the basis of a disability. It is also the first time the Court has used the concept of reasonable accomodation for disability and the first time the Court has referred to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in a decision.