What is “philosophical belief”?
The Employment Tribunal has found that an employee’s belief in “democratic socialism” could amount to a “philosophical belief” that was protected under the Equality Act (“the EqA”).
Under the EqA, it is unlawful to discriminate or harass someone on the grounds of their religion and/or religious or philosophical belief. In Grainger v Nicholson  IRLR 4 (EAT), the EAT gave guidance on the meaning of “philosophical belief” for the purposes of defining a religion or belief in the (then) 2003 Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations.
To date, Tribunals have found that the following beliefs ARE capable of amounting to “philosophical beliefs”:
- sanctity of life including anti-fox hunting and anti-hare coursing (Hashman v Milton Park (Dorset) Ltd T/A Orchard Park Garden Centre);
- “higher purpose” of public service broadcasting (Maistry v BBC);
- spiritualism, life after death and the ability of mediums to contact the dead (Greater Manchester Police Authority v Power); and
- “it is wrong to lie under any circumstances” (Hawkins v Universal Utilities Ltd).
- that the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks were “false flag operations” and part of a conspiracy by the UK and US governments (Farrell v South Yorkshire Police Authority);
- Marxist/Trotskyist political beliefs (Kelly v Unison);
- “cultural identity and ancestry, including the promotion and celebration of English culture and history”, (Marsden L’Anson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police);
- “consensual slavery” and bondage, discipline and sado-masochistic lifestyle (Shepherd v North and East Hertford Health Authority);
- people should pay their respects by wearing a poppy from 2 November to Remembrance Sunday (Lisk v Shield Guardian Co Ltd); and
- that Jews were “God’s chosen people” (Arya v London Borough of Waltham Forest).
With the exception of the EAT in Greater Manchester Police Authority v Power above, these decisions are only at Tribunal level and so not binding.