Legal cases

Otto-Preminger-Institut v. Austria

Legal case |
Otto-Preminger-Institut v. Austria


Application No. 13470/87

ECHR, Ser. A, 17 EHRR


The case concerned the Austrian state seizing and ordering forfeit a film that would be likely to offend the religious feelings of Catholics (the dominant religion in Austria). The Court upheld the right of the State to withdraw an ‘unpalatable’ film as ‘the respect for religious feelings of believers as guaranteed by Article 9 can legitimately be thought to have been violated by provocative portrayals of objects of religious veneration: and such portrayals can be regarded as a malicious violation of the spirit of tolerance, which must also be a feature of democratic society’. This means that violations of rights such as freedom of expression can be necessary for the protection of the religious rights and freedoms of others. “In the context of religious opinions and beliefs – may legitimately be included an obligation [on individuals] to avoid as far as possible expressions which are gratuitously offensive to others.” The state has a positive obligation to holders of religious beliefs to ensure their peaceful enjoyment of their right.

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