Queen's medal 'unlawful' for being too Christian HERE
A distinguished medal awarded by the Queen has been declared unlawful because of its Christian overtures after a legal case launched by Muslims and Hindus from a Caribbean island.
By Thomas Harding
Last Updated: 7:22PM BST 08 May 2009
The Privy Council has ruled in favour of non-Christians from Trinidad and Tobago saying that the Trinity Cross of the Order of Trinity was unconstitutional because of its associations with Christianity.
Despite the award for distinguished service and bravery being instituted 40 years ago the decoration will now be withdraw. But the 62 recipients, who include the novelist VS Naipaul and the cricketers Sir Garfield Sobers and Brian Lara, will not be stripped of their medal, which took precedence over all other decorations bar the Victoria Cross and George Cross.
The right to equality and freedom of conscience and belief was breached by the Trinity Cross, five British law lords ruled.
In the Privy Council judgement Lord Hope of Craighead, said the Trinity Cross was "perceived by Hindus and Muslims living in Trinidad and Tobago as an overtly Christian symbol both in name and in substance". He said that it breached the islands' Constitution of 1976.
The court order would not be retrospective which will allow those with the cross to retain it.
The case was brought by groups representing Trinidad and Tobago's Muslim and Hindu communities who make up a third of the population.
The Cabinet Office, which controls honours in Britain, said the ruling on other British awards would be looked at by lawyers, The Times reported.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "We have noted the judgment and are monitoring the situation."
A parliamentary review of British honours has already recommended streamlining the system with new titles that have no reference to Christian saints or symbols.
In a similar case last year a Scottish National Party representative Christine Grahame, a member of the Scottish Parliament, said the George Medal, the highest civilian award for bravery, was "clearly very Anglocentric" and unsuitable for Scots. She suggested replacing it with a nationalist award such as a "St Andrews Medal".