Registrar wins right to refuse gay weddings

 

A Christian registrar who refused to perform same-sex civil partnership unions because she believes that gay marriage is "sinful" has won her claim for discrimination, testing the boundaries of the fledgling religious discrimination law.

In a unanimous judgment, an employment tribunal found Islington council in north London unlawfully discriminated against Lillian Ladele, who was threatened with dismissal when she asked to be excused from conducting gay marriage ceremonies.

Ms Ladele, who worked in the registration service for nearly 16 years, said she held "orthodox Christian beliefs'' about marriage and same-sex unions and was not happy to perform civil partnerships. She asked to be excused from them because other registrars could conduct the services.

She was subjected to various acts of direct discrimination by the council on the grounds of her religious beliefs, the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled. This included disciplining her and threatening her with dismissal, concluding that she had committed gross misconduct and labelling and treating her as homophobic.

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

John Gilbert, Islington's executive member for human resources, said: "We're clearly disappointed, because we consider our approach was the right one. 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. We'd like to assure staff and service users that our commitment to services and equalities won't be affected."

The case was financed by the Christian Institute, a charity that has also filed a lawsuit against the internet search engine Google for blocking an anti-abortion online advertisement.

Mike Judge, the institute's head of communications, said: "This important ruling confirms that gay rights should not be treated as trumping religious rights. The law clearly recognises this. 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."

Last year, the employee tribunal heard around 600 religious belief discrimination complaints. Employment law experts say that such cases threaten to recast the boundaries of law in favour of employees whose religious beliefs clash with working practices.

In 2006, British Airways caused uproar after barring a check-in worker from wearing a crucifix at work, a policy the airline has now amended. Similar battles have been fought over Muslim employees' right to wear a hijab, or headscarf, and other overtly religious garb.

Mark Jones, solicitor for Miss Ladele, said: "Hopefully this decision will encourage other employers to balance competing rights where they conflict."

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Functional/Full Life Cycle

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Systems Tester - Functional/Non-Func...

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?