Catastrophe! Homophobic Christian registrar wins discrimination case

Catastrophe! Homophobic Christian registrar wins discrimination case July 11, 2008

OH, they are so full of themselves – those self-righteous cranks over at the Christian Institute, where their head of communications, Mike Judge, yesterday gleefully declared:

… Gay rights should not be treated as trumping religious rights. The law [now] clearly recognises this.

Judge was all cock-a-hoop over a bizarre employment tribunal decision this week that a Christian registrar from Islington – Lillian Ladele – had been discriminated against by the council after she refused to conduct same-sex civil unions.

In its judgment, the employment tribunal found that Miss Lillian Ladele was directly discriminated against by Islington Council after she asked to be allowed not to perform civil partnership registrations.
Ladele’s case was financed by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund – and she now expects to receive thousands in compensation.
The tribunal accepted that Islington Council had been able to deliver a “first-class” service to homosexual couples seeking civil partnerships, without Miss Ladele’s involvement. Therefore, the Council’s decision to require Miss Ladele to perform civil partnership registrations, contrary to her conscience, was an unlawful act of indirect religious discrimination.
The Council’s actions also amounted to unlawful harassment. The judgment found that the Council “disregarded and displayed no respect for Ms Ladele’s genuinely held religious belief,” and it created an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her on grounds of her religion on belief.”
Reacting to the decision, Ladele said:

I am delighted at this decision. It is a victory for religious liberty, not just for myself but for others in a similar position to mine. Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs.

Judge added:

If we really believe in equality before the law, that means respecting people who have sincerely held religious beliefs on sexual ethics. The witch hunt against those who disagree with homosexual practice has to stop.

According to the Daily Mail, Islington Council was disappointed by the result which carried a ‘wider implication’ for local authorities. It was considering an appeal against the result.
Councillor John Gilbert was quoted as saying:

We’re clearly disappointed with the result, as we consider our approach was the right one. We are now considering the judgment carefully in order to decide whether we should appeal.
On first reading, the Tribunal seems to have based its findings primarily on the fact that we could have continued to provide civil partnerships without Ms Ladele.
The wider issue of whether councils should be able to expect employees to carry out civil partnerships doesn’t seem to have been fully addressed. In our view this is a crucial question that has much wider implications for local authorities and employers.

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, is outraged by the judgment:

This is catastrophic not just for gay people but for the wider community. It appears to place the religious ‘conscience’ of registrars above their legal duty to carry out parliament’s legislation.

Ms Ladele now seems to have won the right to be exempt from some of her duties on the grounds that she is a Christian. Putting religious rights and gay rights under the same legal umbrella when they are incompatible was bound eventually to lead to this confrontation. This decision appears to show that religious rights trump gay rights and that should leave gay people quaking in their boots.

If it sets a precedent, this entirely wrong decision will have major implications for the Government’s equality and human rights agenda. This raises all kinds of implications far beyond the gay community. What other duties will religious people now claim exemption from? We have already seen pharmacists refuse contraception on religious grounds and supermarket check-out attendants refusing to handle alcohol or pork products. Others demand that they should not be required to work on holy days.

We urge the Council to appeal and hope the decision is rapidly overturned.

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  • I thought the whole idea of a registry office wedding was that you could get married without all the religious mumbo jumbo!

  • Haz

    If she can’t do her job properly then she should find employment elsewhere. It’s common sense.
    Also, how are the people of Islington going to feel when they find out that their council tax is going to be used to pay some woman who refused to do her job properly?

  • Stuart H.

    Maybe the council should obey their consciences too and forget to pay her salary, on the grounds that she’s as much use to the public as a bacon sandwich at a barmizvah.

  • The Daily Mail are carrying this ‘Victory’ on the front page today. Well, Ms Ladelle is a heterosexual Christian so naturally the Mail is delighted that her Deeply Held Beliefs allow her to discriminate or be compensated (as opposed to the ‘Political Corectness Gone Mad!’ angle they would use if anybody else behaved like this.

  • Heh, this one could be lucrative!
    “I’m afraid that my religion forbids me from picking up the phone. It may well be part of the job description, but my employer will have to work their way around it if they don’t want to have to pay out.”

  • I think Terry Sanderson misses the point. Christianity is a lifestyle choice, whereas being gay (or black) is not. There are lots of things about my lifestyle preferences that make certain jobs not suitable for me (being a vicar, for instance). I’m not about to start sueing the church over it!

  • Pramod Subbaraman

    Nobody should regard themselves as being above the law, be they religious, atheist, gay or anybody else.
    If she was not allowed by law to refuse to marry gay couples, then she committed an offence for which she should have been punished in whatever way reasonable.
    Separate state, work and the public sphere from religion will you?
    If your religion comes in the way of any work you do you have two choices leave the job or the religion, but stop holding the public to ransom over your delusions.

  • Ben Abbott

    Great, next we’ll have faith healers claiming they’re being discriminated against by the medical establishment.

    If we really believe in equality before the law, that means respecting people who have sincerely held religious beliefs […]. The witch hunt against those who disagree with [the power of faith] has to stop.

    If your religion restricts your from carrying out the responsibilities demanded by your employment … find another job.

  • Toby Barrett

    The wrongness of this decision is highlighted by considering what would happen if someone said they didn’t want to perform same-sex unions because they didn’t approve of homosexuality. Not for religious reason; they’re just an anti-gay bigot.
    Would their rights be respected? Of course not. They’d be told to put their personal feelings asside and do their job. But because this woman’s predudices are religiously motivated, we have to go along with them.

  • Valdemar

    As a spiritualist I feel I am discriminated against by the police force, who refuse to pay me to contact murder victims to find out who killed them.
    Seriously, this is disgrace – religion is being used to justify bigotry against people who should enjoy the same rights as everyone else. And the end result will not be good for religion, as it creates a two-tier society. Ordinary, secular Brits (the vast majority) will be less inclined to involve themselves with overtly religious types for fear that they’ll get ‘done’ for some imagined discrimination.
    So, well done Little Miss Bigot, you’ve made Christians less popular.

  • Cal

    Any religion with the audacity to complain about their clergy’s “rights” is forgetting the countless minorities they have oppressed since their conception. Their tongues remain, as ever, forked to sharp and bitter tees.
    They are also refusing outright to understand what it is to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, transgender and so on – it is to know one’s sexuality, which is a large and inescapable part of the self.
    Why homosexuality singularly fuels so many prejudices is beyond me. I suppose it is like ethnicity, which again is not acquired by choice, but by intangible, uncontrollable factors. What confuses me even more is that those who profess to be ethically pure thanks to their religion a) continue to think like ignorant schoolchildren, and b) think that their gods – if any exist and are worth belief in – will appreciate a life structured around dogma and bigotry more than one driven by one of their few useful proverbs: “know thyself”.
    There is no love lost between these hypocrites and human thought, and so it saddens me to here, therefore, that a democratic country’s judicial system has ruled in favour of one of said narrow-minded sheeple.

  • Cal

    Oops, that should be “hear,” not “here”.

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  • Debbie Kean

    This is a good thing, that this woman has had her courage and her faith upheld.
    Good on Ms Ladele!
    Debbie Kean

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