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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Council to appeal against decision on fundamentalist registrar who applies “strict Christianity principles” to everyone but herself

Islington Council says that it is to go ahead with an appeal against last week’s employment tribunal judgment that they had discriminated against a registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships because of her religion. The Council believes it has “strong grounds” for the appeal. Councillor John Gilbert said: “This isn’t a decision we've taken lightly, but we believe an important question is at stake and the law must be clarified. Islington Council, like all councils and employers, needs to know whether we can expect employees to provide services to all sections of the community, regardless of who they are.”

Lillian Ladele, the woman registrar at the centre of the storm, told the employment tribunal that her Christian belief is so fundamental that she could not conduct civil partnerships for gay couples. It is now reported that she is an unmarried mother.

Part of the tribunal's judgement read: “Ms Ladele is a Christian. Her unchallenged evidence was that she holds the orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others and that marriage is the God-ordained place for sexual relations. She could not reconcile her faith with taking an active part in enabling same-sex unions to be formed. She told us that she believed this to be contrary to God's instructions that sexual relations belong exclusively between a man and a woman within marriage.”

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Ms Ladele revealed that she is an unmarried mother – having given birth to an illegitimate son when she was 20. This has led to accusations that she was not properly cross-examined at the tribunal about the nature of her religious faith – details of her extra-marital sexual activities were only publicly revealed at the weekend.

Ms Ladele told the Mail that while working as a registrar in Islington she told her superiors: “I would not be able to conduct civil partnerships because it states in the Bible that marriage occurs between a man and a woman, not people of the same sex, and, as a Christian, I try to follow what the Bible teaches.”

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. As a Christian, I loved being able to help people, to talk to them when they needed advice, it's what my religion is all about and I think I have a lot of empathy."
Read the whole judgment
Blogger discovers that one member of the tribunal worked for the Catholic Church

18 July 2008


Published Fri, 18 Jul 2008