Court of Appeal rules against Christian Registrar
Court of Appeal rules against Christian Registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships
On15 December 2009, the Court of Appeal ruled against a Christian Registrar who refused to conduct hom
osexual civil partnership ceremonies because it contravened her conscience as a Christian. The ruling marks another step to sideline conscientious objectors who refuse to behave contrary to biblical principles on sexual ethics.
Lillian Ladele, 48, sought to challenge a decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which rejected her claim that her employer, Islington City Council, had subjected her to unlawful direct and indirect discrimination on religious grounds after she refused to serve as registrar in carrying out homosexual civil partnerships.
Ms Ladele, who had held her job for almost 16 years, claims she suffered ridicule and bullying as a result of her Christian stance and said she had been harassed and discriminated against by the council. She had been employed by Islington since 1992, and became a registrar in November 2002 dealing with births, marriages and deaths.
Last month, James Dingemans QC, for Ms Ladele, told a panel of three appeal judges that Islington Council mistook their obligation for compliance with the Dignity For All policy in failing to accommodate its employee when it was possible to do so. When two homosexuals working at the council complained about ‘discrimination’ against them, their complaint was dealt with very quickly. In contrast, when Ms Ladele made the complaint, no one dealt with it. The Council saw her belief and committed views about marriage as a problem, Mr Dingemans QC told the Court.
Mr Dingemans QC said there was evidence that the reason for the disciplinary action was that Islington Council found his client's views and principles unacceptable. He said that the council indicated to Ms Ladele that her right to practise the Christian faith, which had been protected for millennia, should be kept private and should not interfere with society.
In July 2008, an Employment Tribunal ruled in favour
of Ms Ladele. The Tribunal found that the Islington Council showed no respect for Ms Ladele’s rights by virtue of her orthodox Christian beliefs.
At the time, the Tribunal decided that homosexual rights should not be allowed to ‘trump’ the rights of those with religious beliefs and said that the Council’s other registrars were able to provide a ‘first-class’ service to same-sex couples without Ms Ladele’s involvement. The Tribunal’s ruling said that Islington council ‘placed a greater value on the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community than it placed on the rights of Ms Ladele as one holding an orthodox Christian belief’.
But in December 2008 the Employment Appeal Tribunal overturned
the decision and ruled that the council was entitled to require all registrars to perform the full range of services.
Today, the Court of Appeal ruled again against Ms Ladele.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of CCFON, said: ‘The decision of the Court of Appeal is another set back for Bible-believing Christians. If this kind of legal precedent is followed it will prove increasingly difficult for Christians to participate fully in public life without contravening their conscience. Islington Council could very easily have accommodated Ms Ladele without marginalising her and then fighting to keep her and her belief out. Our Public Services are increasingly using equality and diversity policies to leave Christians sidelined and punished. In effect this amounts to a religious bar to office. It is time to expose the real consequences these policies have on those who hold Christian millennia-held view on marriage and sexual ethics and for common sense to be restored’
By courtesy of Christian Concern for Our Nation