Wednesday, December 16, 2009

UK Court of Appeal: No Discrimination In Requring Official To Register Civil Partnerships

In Ladele v. London Borough of Islington, (EWCA, Dec. 15, 2009), the Court of Appeals of England and Wales agreed with Britain's Employment Appeals Tribunal (see prior posting) that a Christian marriage registrar was not subjected to illegal discrimination when she was disciplined and threatened with dismissal for refusing to register same-sex civil partnerships. Lillian Ladelle argued that requiring her to "facilitate the formation of a union which [she] sincerely believe[d] was contrary to God's law" violated her rights under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. The Court of Appeal, however, concluded unanimously that:

Ms Ladele was employed in a public job and was working for a public authority; she was being required to perform a purely secular task, which was being treated as part of her job; Ms Ladele's refusal to perform that task involved discriminating against gay people in the course of that job; she was being asked to perform the task because of Islington's Dignity for All policy, whose laudable aim was to avoid, or at least minimise, discrimination both among Islington's employees, and as between Islington (and its employees) and those in the community they served; Ms Ladele's refusal was causing offence to at least two of her gay colleagues; Ms Ladele's objection was based on her view of marriage, which was not a core part of her religion; and Islington's requirement in no way prevented her from worshipping as she wished....

Ms Ladele's proper and genuine desire to have her religious views relating to marriage respected should not be permitted to override Islington's concern to ensure that all its registrars manifest equal respect for the homosexual community as for the heterosexual community

Today's London Mail reports on the decision.