Human rights court backs Lithuanian fashion designer’s ‘offensive’ Jesus ad campaign

2 February 2018

A Lithuanian fashion designer who sparked outrage after portraying a denim-clad Jesus in a 2012 ad campaign has won his case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Designer Robert Kalinkin sued the Lithuanian government after officials banned the ads for “offending public morals.”

The advertisements featured two models representing Jesus and the Virgin Mary, each dressed in Kalkin’s latest collection. Captions underneath the images read, “Jesus, what trousers!”, “Dear Mary, what a dress!”, and “Jesus [and] Mary, what are you wearing!”

The court in Strasbourg ruled that the ban violated Kalinkin’s freedom of expression.

“[The advertisements] do not appear to be gratuitously offensive or profane,” the ECHR said in a statement. “[They do not] incite hatred on the grounds of religious belief or attack a religion in an unwarranted or abusive manner.”

Talking to the Lithuanian media on Tuesday, Kalinkin said that he welcomed the decision, but had not intended to hurt the feelings of the country’s Christians.

“The decision is favorable and we welcome it, but neither then nor now do I want to ridicule or offend people who worship one or another religion,” he said.

Although Lithuania is officially a secular state, some 77 per cent of the population define themselves as Catholics, according to the 2011 census.