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Friday, 1 August 2008


An interesting case in Islington has recently come to my attention. An employment tribunal has ruled that Lillian Ladele a registrar at the council does not have to officiate over same-sex civil partnerships as it offends her religious beliefs. The registrar in question has called the decision a "victory for religious liberty".

I am horrified by the decision of the tribunal. A civil partnership is not a religious marriage; God does not and should not figure. That this lady can refuse to bring together a loving couple, as is their right in UK, because it offends her religious sensitivities is ridiculous. She is a public servant and the right to civil partnership is the law, applicable to everybody, no matter their sexual orientation.

This case seems to row back on precedent set by the magistrate Andrew McClintock who refused to preside over adoption hearings involving same-sex couples. McClintock lost his case against the Government that he was being discriminated against on grounds of his religious belief.

Like McClintock, Ladele should not be allowed to dismiss this law and discriminate against people on the grounds of her personal beliefs. If your beliefs prohibit you from doing a particular job as a matter of conscience then you should consider whether you are fit for that job. This point is particularly pertinent when your job involves upholding the law. For example, if you believe with your whole heart that drugs should be legalised and would have serious problems convicting anybody found in possession of drugs then you should not become a police officer or judge.

This case is setting a dangerous precedent. What if she or another registrar will not officiate over the civil partnerships of couples who have been living together “in sin” or where one partner was previously divorced, or one partner is of another religion or race than the other? Should she be given the right of refusal in these scenarios too?

Where does the right of the religious to press their interpretation of the world on the rest of us end?

Luckily, Islington council have given notice of their intention to appeal and I certainly hope they do and that their appeal will be successful.


Stewart Cowan said...

Lillian Ladele had been a registrar for many years before this Government changed the rules for what constitutes a decent society.

She is most certainly not in the wrong.

Merseymike said...

Mary: whilst I agree with your stance, I think the decision - which was made very clear is not to be treated as a precedent - is largely due to the incompetence of Islington Council. They simply needed to ensure that her religious viewpoint was taken seriously and considered - which they didn't do.

Personally, I don't think that belief in an imaginary friend should be protected in law, but given that it is, Islington needed to bear that in mind. Clearly, new applicants for such a job would be expected to do the job and what it entails.