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Islington registrar loses appeal

Updated Thursday morning

The Court of Appeals (Civil Division) has today dismissed the appeal of Lilian Ladele from the Employment Appeal Tribunal decision of December 2008, which found in favour of the London Borough of Islington.

The full text of today’s judgment can be found here. A printable version here is in .rtf format.

Initial press reports:

Press Association Registrar loses discrimination case

Reuters Christian registrar loses gay wedding appeal

Islington Tribune Registrar who refused to carry out civil partnership ceremonies loses appeal

Ekklesia Partnerships registrar loses case in Court of Appeal

BBC Christian registrar loses same-sex partnership case

Updates

Press Association Pressure groups welcome same-sex discrimination ruling

Symon Hill Cif belief A judgment Christians should celebrate

Christian Institute Court rejects appeal in Christian registrar case

Christian Concern for our Nation Court of Appeal rules against Christian Registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships

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toby forward
Guest

This is good news. If you have a moral objection to alcohol and won’t deal in it, don’t go and work in a cocktail bar.

Peter B
Guest

toby, What if you work in a library and one day it decides to open a cocktain lounge? It’s not as black and white as you suggest. You might not approve of her stance, but the fact is that she was forced out of her job after her job was changed, without (as far as I know) any consultation or consideration for her.

How many civil partnerships did she prevent from taking place?

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

This is good news. If you have a moral objection to alcohol and won’t deal in it, don’t go and work in a cocktail bar. Posted by: toby forward on Tuesday, 15 December 2009 Yes and also I wouldnt want a person with such publicaly announced views anywhere near me on such a happy day. She has shot herself in the foot. Mind you the chap we did have in Newham, was unimpressive and got our names the wrong way round — yes two names of the same gender do call for a little extra care – making a note… Read more »

ordinary vicar
Guest
ordinary vicar

Toby – she didn’t go anywhere – her employers changed the core doctrine of their organisation. The issue is around their unwillingness to accommodate those who find the change difficult.

Now where have we heard that before?

OV

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

‘The Christian Institute, which has bankrolled Ms Ladele through two employment tribunals and the most recent High Court hearing, said it would appeal the decision in the Supreme Court.’ So the usual suspects are behind this as we might have expected. I wonder where all their money comes from. Staff employed by local authorities, who by law should be delivering services equally to all their service users, cannot pick and chose those who they wish to serve. Personal Christian belief should not be used to discriminate in the public realm. I don’t care a jot what Ms Ladele thinks or… Read more »

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

Thank you, Toby Forward! If someone disapproves of abortion, don’t work for a clinic that offers them. If someone disapproves of birth control, don’t work for a pharmacist/chemist/apothecary that dispenses it. If someone is offended by civil partnerships or marriages for gay and lesbian couples, don’t work in the registrar’s office. Lord Neuberger said: “It appears to me that, however much sympathy one may have with someone such as Ms Ladele, […] the legislature has decided that the requirements of a modern liberal democracy, such as the United Kingdom, include outlawing discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services… Read more »

Ed Tomlinson
Guest

first they came for…..

ordinary vicar
Guest
ordinary vicar

For the record, I think this is the right decision, but I’m troubled at some of thes comments. In Thomas Cranmer’s prayer of intercession at Holy Communion he urges us to pray for those in auhtority that they may ‘truly and indifferently minister justice’. Notwithstanding the changes in language between then and now I think it serves as a warning against righteous smugness. I think the judgement has managed to do this really well, expressing a primary sympathy for the employee but upholding the claims of the law as set down by the legislature. Those of you who are crowing… Read more »

davidwh
Guest
davidwh

Having read through a fair amount of the judgement it seems that these “anti-discrimination” laws have been constructed so as to take no account of the right of employees to express their religion. Yet that is an international Human Right! Everyone is allowed to express their religion, and that right should only be restricted as far as is actually necessary to protect other people’s rights, and then only proportionately restricted. ie Someone’s religion might say that someone who commits a crime against them should be executed, but it is proportionate to restrict the right to express that belief, in action… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

‘Ms Ladele, who lives in Skinner Street, Finsbury and continues to work in Islington Town Hall registering births and deaths.’

So she hasn’t been forced out of a job, she has been given someething else where her ‘conscience’ doesn’t conflict with her duties. Sounds to me as if the local authority have bent over backwards to accomodate her.

toby forward
Guest

Good, I thought the analogy would be put to the test, and, of course, it has weaknesses. So, try this way: Peter B. Suppose she worked in a library that refused to lend books to black people, because black people might learn something that made them uppity? Then, the rule was changed and she had to lend to black people and she refused? ordinary vicar: The same goes for people who would not accept the post-aparteid regime in South Africa, or people who worked at the lunch counters in Alambama, or the bus driver who would only drive the bus… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest

The ruling has to be correct as a statement of the law. This is *civil* partnership (the clue’s in the name), recorded by a publicly funded Local Authority, as decided by Parliament. Giving personal exemptions harms the employer and other employees materially, making it harder to deliver the publicly funded law-mandated service and imposing undue restrictions on others (no you can’t take annual leave that weekend as we’ve got a Christian on duty so someone has to cover for all the people they don’t want to register, can you come back next week for your big day – Ladele’s on… Read more »

Robert Ian williams
Guest
Robert Ian williams

What would have happened if she had won, and a Catholic registrar refused to marry divorced persons?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

To refuse to do ones job, cancels the employment.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Ordinary Vicar and Fr Ed:

If I recall correctly, the press has been full of reports that Ms Ladele herself has a child by a man to whom she is not married. In which case, she can hardly pose as a martyr to traditional Christian family values without being open to the charge of hypocrisy, n’est-ce pas?

Sam
Guest
Sam

‘her employers changed the core doctrine of their organisation’ Excuse me, but when was the refusal to sanction same-sex relationships a core doctorine of the registration department? Besides, did Ms Ladele have an understanding not to marry any couple of whom one had been divorced for reasons other than adultery? If so, she would have had to sit out a lot of weddings…and yet Scripture is far clearer on this point than on issues of homosexuality ‘first they came for’…this is a highly inappropriate comment. She has not been arrested, or (as far as I know) fired. If Ms Ladele… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

first they came for…..

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Tuesday, 15 Dec

…. the Jews, the gypsies, the ‘homosexuals’–

bigots do not fear for their lives though.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

When president Obama’s parents were married about half the states in the USA forbade inter-racial marriage (whatever they thought that meant). Suppose a justice of the peace moved from Alabama or Mississipi to a state that did not have that ban and simply refused ‘for conscious sake’ to marry a balck and white couple? I think this ruling is a very good one and also a correct interpretation of civil service, which does not (or should not) depend on the personal opinion of the public employee.

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

It is on record, in the public domain, that Ms Ladele has not always been so punctillious in upholding / practicing traditional Christian matrimonial tenets herself.

I love the selectivity of self-proclaimed ‘traditional’ beleivers.

Archbishop Carey was agin divorce and ‘re-mariage’ until it came to his own persoanl sphere. Ms Ladele is agin marriage for gays,but felt able to start a family herself while single.

It strikes me as really ‘pick n mix’ and post-modern, but the logic of this praxis must surely be something like ‘live and let live’.

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

Yes, Peter B., but as you say on your web :–

‘I’d rather you just do what you’re told!’

I suspect this is what the ‘Christian’ Institute and Lawyers Christian campaigning group require of us all — and especially lesbians, gays and our supporters

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“I don’t care a jot what Ms Ladele thinks or does at home but in the public service she should abide by its rules.” – Richard Ashby, on Tusday – This sounds eminently reasonable. If Ms Ladele’s principles are so rigid as to prevent her from carrying out her Public Service duties, she ought to either resign or find another post – more compatible with her religious beliefs. This, after all, is what has happened with some of the homophobic and misogynistic Anglicans whose consciences are so deeply troubled by TEC’s determination to both preach and practise the inclusivity of… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Yet that is an international Human Right! Everyone is allowed to express their religion”
– David WH, on Tusday –

Yes, maybe, but allowed by WHOM? If you were in a strict Muslim country, you are not always *allowed* to express your faith as a Christian.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Lots of nonsense being talked about this. Essentially, its her job to do what is required of her and to serve the public. If she can’t do that then she is in the wrong job. She marries lots of couples who live together and I thought the fundies are the ones who keep sating CP’s aren’t marriages anyway – so what’s the issue?

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

People’s religious rights do not include the right to discriminate against others….

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“You might not approve of her stance, but the fact is that she was forced out of her job after her job was changed….” Her job didn’t change, just the nature of the people she was required to serve in that job. Let’s say it’s 1965 in Atlanta, Georgia, and suddenly all the lunch counters are required to “accommodate” their waitresses who don’t want to serve the new clientele…namely, black folks. Somehow, I don’t think that would have gone over too well. “Toby – she didn’t go anywhere – her employers changed the core doctrine of their organisation. The issue… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“You might not approve of her stance, but the fact is that she was forced out of her job after her job was changed….” Her job didn’t change, just the nature of the people she was required to serve in that job. Let’s say it’s 1965 in Atlanta, Georgia, and suddenly all the lunch counters are required to “accommodate” their waitresses who don’t want to serve the new clientele…namely, black folks. Somehow, I don’t think that would have gone over too well. “Toby – she didn’t go anywhere – her employers changed the core doctrine of their organisation. The issue… Read more »

Lou Poulain
Guest
Lou Poulain

I think the principle here is that the right of the couples to a partnership ceremony trumps the registrar’s right to deny these legal services because of her conscience. It’s an issue that has hit the courts in the US, in the case of contraception and the instance when a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription for sake of conscience. The particulars have to do with the “Plan B” after-the-fact contraceptive. What happens if the pharmacy is in a rural district with no nearby alternatives? I think it is a serious issue and there needs clarity that there is more… Read more »

Raymond Stewart
Guest
Raymond Stewart

Very disappointing for any who believe in Christian conscience. Martin Luther declared My conscience is captive to the Word of God.
It also poses the question for all as to what is sin ?

Craig Nelson
Guest

I did just want to emphasise this is about *registration* as a civil ‘act’ and is quite different from a sacrament. The role of registrar is to register civil status on behalf of the Local Authority and the (civil) registrar isn’t personally blessing or praying for the couple or giving their personal imprimatur or benediction as if they were a state employed, self licensed, minister of religion. That being so only animus against a specific group can be a reason for the refusal to carry out one’s duties. Unless of course you say I’m a Christian/Jew/Muslim/Hindu or whatever and I… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

All things being equal I believe I might be happy to have Ms Ladele pick and choose those she was willing to marry. The problem is that things are not equal and her case is being used by those who would make their points at her expense, I am sorry for her. Things are not equal because gay people may not marry. The government decided to invent a whole new legal contract for same sex couples and in a cruel twist made it legal to contract that relationship everywhere EXCEPT in a religious building or within a religious context. Ministers… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mark “But in this case there is *no* suggestion that the access of gay people to a civil partnership was being restricted at all by Ms Ladelle. Noone would have even known! Her right to religious freedom was restricted without an objective cause, never mind proportionality!” In the small register office I got civil partnered there is only ever one registrar on duty on any day. At the very least, all the registrars employed at that register office would be inconvenienced if they had to keep changing their working pattern to accommodate one person’s belief that her religious views are… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Raymond Stewart “Very disappointing for any who believe in Christian conscience.” @Raymond – not at all. This Christian conscience would have been sorely disappointed if religiously sanctioned discrimination was to be allowed to trump the right of all citizens to equal and indifferent treatment. Our God is no respecter of persons – and nor should we be. She is still employed by the Islington Registrars Office apparently – so they have gone to some considerable trouble to help her keep her employment. So Ladele is ok, and Islington are doing the right thing – and this will stop anyone pulling… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“It also poses the question for all as to what is sin?” – Raymond Stewart, on Tuesday –

It reminds me of the scriptural account of Jesus being accused of ‘SINNING’ when he healed a person of the Sabbath!. I guess we all have to decide for ourselves exactly what is ‘sin’ in a particular circumstance. No easy answers here.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

Having witnessed the lavish, exclusivist, self-interested and self-perpetuating lifestyles within the boundaries of one cathedral precinct recently, it comes as no surprise that there is not more active interest in the down-trodden, dispossessed and marginalised in our society – whether in the material sense as with those sleeping rough on the streets of Canterbury – or in the spiritual sense with faithful gay couples being denied the basic sacraments.

But there is hope – as promised in the Magnificat.

MarkBrunson
Guest

All the angst about duty to society vs. moral duty to God is absolute smokescreen. Those using it to compare liberals to Nazis – Mr. Tomlinson – are doing a bit of hypocritical stage-acting to play false martyr! The issue has been solved for them for some time by Paul: Romans 13:1-2 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will… Read more »

Canon Andrew Godsall
Guest
Canon Andrew Godsall

I am convinced that the ‘orthodox’ postion on human sexuality was summed up succintly and graciously by Nick Holtam in the interview he did with Diarmaid MacCulloch in the ‘History of Christianity’ series. The bible, he said, was clear that people were called to ‘loving, faithful, honest relationships’ with each other, and that the kind of homosexual activity that was condemned in the bible was not that. It’s a most helpful distinction. We are called to loving, honest, faithful human relationships. That’s the orthodox position. Why the Registrar could not act in accordance with that without making her own judgements… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ed
An employee of the state is being asked to comply with its laws, and you see this as persecution?
Have you completely lost your sense of proportion?

What would you say to Christians in Muslim countries who genuinely fear for their lives if they live their faith openly – “I understand your difficulty, we too suffer because we have to obey the law in order to keep our jobs, and if we disagree they have the nerve to move us to a different department”?

Your sense of injury is astonishing.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest

It’s a silly thought, perhaps, but how do we relate this judgement to the right of a GP not to prescribe artificial contraception to a patient? We had this situation in my last parish, and the GP practice made it clear that Dr X would not offer contraceptive services, whereas their colleagues would.

Any thoughts?

rick allen
Guest

And now the definition of Jewish identity has been found racially discriminatory.

This equality legislation is quite efficient.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Martin “Perhaps in a world of perfect equality where same sex couples were not denied access to a religious context for the making of their contract then Ms Ladele’s scrupples might be allowed.” But only if you assume that all same sex couples have some kind of religious background. It should be possible for agnostics and atheists to enter into a civil partnership without having to take the various religious beliefs of various potential registrars from a multitude of faiths into account. It just cannot be right that the consequences of religious belief should be borne by those who don’t… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

In the hierarchy of rights, if you will, the right to contract is at least as high as the right to personal religious beliefs. The _expression_ of religious belief is not, however, unconditionally recognized, in particular in places where the expression of a religious belief conflicts with some other person’s rights. “Religion” is, after all, a lifestyle choice, and there is significant evidence that religious orientation is fluid and subject to change or conversion. There is no apparent reason that the right to hold internal and subjective religious beliefs should trump objective external rights such as the ability to form… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

>>>OK–I’m a clerk in a grocery that doesn’t sell beer. I’m happy with that, as I think alcohol is a bad thing. New owners come in and announce “We’re selling beer.” Should they have to “accommodate” me…or just tell me “You can either wait on the customers who buy beer or find another job”? I rather think it’s the latter. That is an excellent analogy, and I would like to change it a bit to illustrate what is actually happening here: The new owners of the store respect your convictions regarding alcohol, so they offer to let you work in… Read more »

Fr John E. Harris-White
Guest
Fr John E. Harris-White

Find the various comments interesting. As my partner , who is a civil servant stated, you are employed to do your duty, within the remit of the government regulations, and support the public. Your faith is a private matter, as is your lifestyle.

This women, whatever her lifestyle, is being used by the religious right, regardless of her feelings, and status within a government department. The religious right need to be told by government, and judiciary, hands off this person, you are bullying her and be warned their antics are reprehensible both in law and religion.

Fr John

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Ms L and her conscience and the situation are all transitional phenomena. Coming from somewhere else previously, and headed off towards another somewhere else ethically and theologically. One of the unsolved intellectual hindrances of just repeating the various conflicting and alternative set-closed positions along the way is just that nothing permits us to capture this foundational sense of transition, development, change very well in our accounts of people, places, and how the ethics or theology is alive at the given moment. I note that conservative-traditionalist posters favor static manners. Nothing has ever changed, can change, or will change when it… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest

Christian conscience is indeed sacrosanct (even if at times oddly misguided) but Ms Ladele isn’t in prison and is still in employment so she isn’t being coerced into anything, although she s being prevented from dictating to her employer what she will and won’t do in a way that worsens the service it provides. People have died for their beliefs, suffered for their beliefs. In this case someone had to move from one job to another when they didn’t wish to exercise the duties associated with the post – the beastliness of it all. Parliament passes a law which I… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

I have no problem with people wanting to maintain some sort of ritual purity and refusing contact with others. We have those and tolerate them in the Hasidic community and others. That’s fine. What they have to realize is that there are sacrifices that come with maintaining that separateness. What these “orthodox” christians are doing is trying to get all the benefits of a modern, advanced, pluralistic society while contributing little or nothing to that pluralistic ethos and demanding an unprecedented level of deference from both the individuals and institutions that enable them to live a comfortable life.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mynster
But your GP analogy isn’t appropriate here. Your GP was refusing to provide a service to all of his or her patients without discrimminating against a particular group of patients.

This registrar was perfectly happy to marry some people but not others.
Using your example, we’d be looking at a GP who gives contraception to married women but not to single ones.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

–I’m a clerk in a grocery that doesn’t sell beer. I’m happy with that, as I think alcohol is a bad thing. New owners come in and announce “We’re selling beer.” Should they have to “accommodate” me…or just tell me “You can either wait on the customers who buy beer or find another job”? I think this analogy is as wrong as the GP one. We are not talking about someone who has a moral objection to a service per se (marriage, in this case), but who has a moral objection to some groups of people availing themselves of that… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Erika:

How do you feel about the lunch counter analogy?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Erika:

How do you feel about the lunch counter analogy?