The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that a woman who interrupted a Christmas carol rehearsal to perform a topless act of "aborting Jesus" was exercising her right to freedom of expression.
According to The Christian Post, Eloïse Bouton entered the La Madeleine church naked in December 2013 and pretended to abort Jesus as part of a protest against the Catholic Church's teaching against abortion.
Bouton, a former member of the group Femen, stood in front of the altar at the church during her act. She then urinated on the ground.
Later, Femen took to social media to write, "Christmas is cancelled!" and "the holy mother Eloïse has just aborted the embryo of Jesus on the altar of the Madeleine."
The church's priest filed a complaint against Bouton. A national court found her guilty of "sexual display," sentenced her to one month in prison and ordered her to pay the church 2,000 euros.
The judgment was upheld by the Court of Cassation, the highest judicial court in France, but earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights argued that France violated Bouton's freedom of expression, which is protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"The applicant considers that far from being gratuitously offensive or seeking to disturb those present in the church in the practice of their worship, her action was part of a public debate on the place of women in society and aimed to convey a message about the position of the Catholic Church regarding abortion," the court wrote in an opinion. "As such, it recalls that the protection of Article 10 must extend to ideas which offend or shock any section of the population."
France has been ordered by the Court of Human Rights to pay Bouton 9,800 euros for moral damages, legal costs and expenses.
Photo courtesy: Bill Oxford/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.