Judgement has been delivered in the High Court case brought by several trade unions. For the background read my earlier note here.
Press Association via the Independent Unions lose ‘faith-based’ equality fight
Trade unions today lost their High Court battle for a ruling that new equality regulations are flawed because they fail to protect lesbian and gay workers from discrimination by “faith-based” employers.
A judge upheld the legality of the Government’s 2003 Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations and refused to condemn them as “incompatible” with European law.
Christian groups, including the Evangelical Alliance, Christian Schools Trust and Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), all intervened to resist the union challenge, which was brought against the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
The evangelicals - who believe homosexuality is contrary to scripture - argued that Christian organisations had the right to formulate and apply their own policies regarding the employment of gays as clerics and as teachers in faith schools.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Richards refused to rule that the equality regulations were “incompatible” with European law.
He said: “To treat the regulations as reducing the level of protection (from sex discrimination) seems to me to require a distorted view of their effect.”
However, in recognition of the importance of the case, he gave the unions, which include Amicus, Unison and the RMT, leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Separately, the unions - in an action co-ordinated by the TUC - unsuccessfully challenged provisions which they said enabled employers to exclude same-sex couples from pension and benefits rights currently enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
Update - further newspaper reports
Guardian Faith schools cannot sack teachers for being gay, court rules
Here is a slightly more technical news report from HR Gateway (registration required) Unions lose sexual orientation inequality case
Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC said today that judge’s verdict was ‘disappointing’. “Important issues are at stake. No one should be treated differently because of their sexuality,” he said.
Unions will be consulting their legal teams over the next few days, said the TUC today, to “try and figure out the next move”. The individual unions need to make a decision whether to fight the case in the Court of Appeal.
Campaign group Stonewall told HRG today that it was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome of the case. The Government had given religious organisations a “licence to discriminate”, it said, while same sex couples still lose out on pension rights.
A further note from HR Gateway is here
The full text of the ruling is online here. (Warning:this is a very large document)Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 April 2004 at 9:56 PM GMT | TrackBack