The European Court of Human Rights has backed two Swedish tenants who wanted a satellite dish against the wishes of their landlord.
In an important ruling, lawmakers in Strasbourg have warned that banning dishes on listed buildings, social housing and even private homes could breach the right to freedom of expression by preventing people from practicing religion.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Britain’s discrimination watchdog, has now published new guidance warning that landlords could be at risk of being sued if they try to stop their tenants putting up a satellite dish.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps whinged that the ruling, under the Human Rights Act, threatened to drive a horse and cart through planning laws.
The European Court of Human Rights made the judgement after a Swedish couple were evicted for refusing to take down a dish The judges ruled that the Swedish government had failed in its obligation to protect the couple’s right to receive information. It found that satellite dishes come under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The European Commission’s Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said:
The right to use a satellite dish [is] one of the many concrete benefits for European consumers of the free movement of goods and services within the internal market.
Satellite dishes are an increasingly popular tool for receiving multiple services via satellite: they facilitate mutual exchanges between our various cultures by overcoming national borders, and familiarise the general public with the new remote communications technologies. Their use must therefore be free from any unjustified obstacle.’