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Christian registrar loses employment tribunal appeal over civil
By Tony Grew
December 19, 2008
An employment tribunal appeal has ruled that Islington council is not
guilty of either religious discrimination in the case of a Christian
registrar who refused to perform civil partnerships because she
claimed they conflicted with her religious beliefs.
The council were not taking disciplinary action against Ms Ladele for
holding her religious beliefs; they did so because she was refusing to
carry out civil partnership ceremonies and this involved
discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
In July a tribunal ruled that Lillian Ladele was discriminated against
on the grounds of her Christian faith and suffered harassment.
The tribunal said that Islington council was able to fulfil its
responsibility to perform civil partnerships without insisting that
all registrars carry them out.
Therefore by compelling Ms Ladele to conduct gay and lesbian
ceremonies the council was guilty of indirect religious discrimination.
The council appealed the decision.
The employment appeal tribunal's judgement was published today. It
"The council were entitled to take the view that they were not willing
to connive in that practice by relieving Ms Ladele of these duties,
notwithstanding that her refusal was the result of her strong and
genuinely held Christian beliefs. "The council were entitled to take
the view that this would be inconsistent with their strong commitment
to the principles of nondiscrimination and would send the wrong
message to staff and service users. "There were clearly some
unsatisfactory features about the way the council handled this matter.
"The claimant’s beliefs were strong and genuine and not all of
management treated them with the sensitivity which they might have
done. However, we are satisfied that the Tribunal erred in finding
that any of the grounds of discrimination was made out. In our
judgment, there is no proper evidential basis on which a Tribunal
properly directing itself in law could reach that conclusion."
Ms Ledele, who had worked for the council for more than 16 years,
initially swapped with colleagues to avoid performing gay and lesbian
ceremonies after civil partnerships became legal in 2005.
After formal complaints were made against her, an internal
disciplinary investigation began.
Christian fundamentalist groups had claimed that her employment
tribunal ruling will set a precedent about where they can and cannot
claim their religious beliefs should be taken into account at work.
It raises the possibility of innumerable Christians and others
claiming they should be allowed to opt out of performing their duties
because of their religious beliefs.
The appeal was correct and sound. That woman has no right to impose
the misguided hate that comes from religious views on her civil
duties. Allowing religion to interfere with politics and law should
not to be tolerated.
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