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Christian registrar wins employment battle with Islington Council over civil partnerships

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Christian registrar wins employment battle with Islington Council over civil partnerships

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Local Government

Christian registrar wins employment battle with Islington Council over civil partnerships Christian registrar wins employment battle with Islington Council over civil partnerships

A Christian registrar who was threatened with the sack because of her religious beliefs on same sex unions has succeeded in her claims of unlawful discrimination by Islington Council.

In its unanimous judgment, the employment tribunal found that Lillian Ladele was directly discriminated against by the council after she asked to be allowed not to perform civil partnership registrations.

Islington Council cared too much about the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community, the panel ruled.

It showed 'no respect' for Miss Ladele's rights as an orthodox Christian and gave her an ultimatum to choose between her beliefs and her £31,000-a-year job, which she held for nearly 16 years.

The Central London tribunal's landmark ruling that employees cannot be required to act against their consciences has implications for the 18,000 same-sex ceremonies conducted nationwide each year.

Council chiefs had insisted it would give the wrong message if Miss Ladele was exempted.

But the tribunal accepted the claims that Islington Council had been able to deliver a "first-class" service to homosexual couples seeking civil partnerships, without Miss Ladele's involvement.

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."
 
In coming to their conclusion, the tribunal said, "It is an important case which may have a wider impact than the dispute between the parties."

Speaking after the case, Miss 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."

Councillor John Gilbert, Islington Council's Executive Member for Human Resources, said: "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.

"We'd like to assure staff and service users that our commitment to services and equalities won't be affected."
 


 

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