ECHR, 30 January 2018, appl. No. 69317/14, SEKMADIENIS LTD. v. LITHUANIA
Advertising Law. Sekmadienis Ltd. ran an advertisement campaign for clothing with models and captions referring to Jesus and Maria. The company was given a fine for offending against public morals. Seksmadienis Ltd. lodged an application with the ECHR. They argued that the fine violated their freedom of expression as protected by art. 10 ECHR. The Court finds that, despite the broader margin of appreciation given the commercial nature of the advertisements, the advertisements were not offensive, and did not incite hatred. Nor had the domestic authorities provided sufficient justifications for why such use of religious symbols had been contrary to public morals. Accordingly, the domestic authorities failed to strike a fair balance between, on the one hand, the protection of public morals and the rights of religious people, and, on the other hand, the applicant company’s right to freedom of expression.
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