Discrimination | Gay Marriage | Great Britain | Religion

UK Christian Registrar Wins Case Over Refusal of Same-Sex Ceremonies

A UK tribunal has ruled in favor of a registrar who argued that performing a same-sex civil partnership violated her rights as an orthodox Christian.

LadeleIslington Council had reportedly given Lillian Ladele an ultimatum — perform same-sex marriages or risk her £31,000-a-year job as a registrar: "When she said she could not reconcile her faith with the union of gay men and women, she was treated like a 'pariah' and the council showed no respect for her rights as a Christian, the tribunal found."

Said the panel: "Islington Council rightly considered the importance of the right of the gay community not to be discriminated against but did not consider the right of Miss Ladele as a member of a religious group. It decided that the service it provided was secular and that the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community must be protected. In so acting, Islington Council took no notice of the rights of Miss Ladele by virtue of her orthodox Christian beliefs."

Islington is Britain's third most popular borough for same-sex civil partnerships. There were no details on the payout Ladele will receive in accordance with the decision.

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Comments

  1. Crazy idea -- how about everyone just follow the law of the country and not the law of each of their little hocus-pocus groups they belong to?

    Also, if a person is unwilling or unable to perform the duties of the job for which they are being paid, they should be fired and replaced by someone more qualified.

    I'm sure I would be jailed for thinking this way in Britain...discriminating against dumb f*cks and all...

    Posted by: paul | Jul 10, 2008 10:57:36 AM


  2. Okay, I'm not expert on British law, but I don't understand how a reasonable court could conclude that her civil rights were violated. She is a government employee, and she is providing a government service that happens to be open to gays and lesbians. She's using her religious views to argue that she shouldn't have to do certain aspects of her job impartially. A) Too bad. If she can't fulfill her work duties because of her conflicting religious beliefs, then she is literally unqualified for the job. That's not religious discrimination. If it were, then religion could be used as an excuse for not fulfilling an unlimited variety of job-related duties. I would characterize her as more of an ideologue whose religious/ political beliefs are in conflict with government policy. Government policy should win, especially when it involves access to a fundamental government service that has been applied discriminatorily in the recent past. B) It does seem to open up the possibility of gay men and lesbians being discriminated against in marriage registrations. That would be the real violation of civil rights, since they have a right to marry and not be inconvenienced or prevented from exercising that right by a biased governmental clerk. C) Clerks are just functionaries, there shouldn't be this much room for ideological prejudice on the part of a functionary.

    Posted by: Will | Jul 10, 2008 10:57:48 AM


  3. wow. I wonder how she'd like it if I decided my "religion" said she couldn't marry a white man?

    Posted by: Tom | Jul 10, 2008 11:11:29 AM


  4. wow. I wonder how she'd like it if I decided my "religion" said she couldn't marry a white man?

    Posted by: Tom | Jul 10, 2008 11:12:37 AM


  5. Can her, if she can't follow the laws she pledged to do, since her so called faith isn't paying her salary. My faith about her says bad wigs and lipstick that isn't your shade is not to be tolerated.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Jul 10, 2008 11:17:40 AM


  6. Man. Stupid decision.
    And I really pity those with such shallow spirits. Definitely not someone I'd like to have dinner with.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jul 10, 2008 11:23:28 AM


  7. this is all such complete utter bullshit... you are hired to do a job and obey the law... if you don't like it, quit and give the job to someone who will... love what tom said...

    Posted by: the queen | Jul 10, 2008 11:28:20 AM


  8. The court even said the service they were providing was a "secular" one. Yes, people should have a freedom of religion but, at least, here in the U.S., the freedom to practice your religion was supposed to be maintained as something separate from your secular status as a citizen. I agree, she should be fired. As should the clerks in California who have been refusing to perform same sex marriages there.

    Posted by: J.P. | Jul 10, 2008 11:30:47 AM


  9. This is an extremely disturbing legal precedent to set.

    Posted by: John in Manhattan | Jul 10, 2008 11:39:11 AM


  10. I can't help but agree with the court's decision. There's something of a dichotomy here - she was told she either had to perform the marriages or lose her job, and was apparently harassed when she made her beliefs known. If she were fired, she would have essentially been canned for being religious, which I hope we can agree should most certainly be illegal. But if she stayed and was required to perform the marriages, she would have been subject to work she did not feel she could in good faith perform. When she was hired, those were not part of her duties, and it isn't like a skilled job where she could be trained to do it.

    It's all well and good to say "quit, then," and wish her the best of luck finding another job, but that's hardly fair - and the court's job is to find the fair solution. No one should be required to compromise their beliefs to continue doing a job they're good at. Let her do paperwork and let someone else do the marrying.

    *Sigh.* Let the flames begin.

    Posted by: Thor | Jul 10, 2008 11:46:40 AM


  11. A small amendment - I agree with the gist of the court's decision, in that she was harassed and her rights were violated. I have problems with the language they used to say so, which seems to say, how dare they protect the rights of GLBT people while violating the Orthodox Christian's.

    In my opinion, they could've protected both.

    Posted by: Thor | Jul 10, 2008 11:49:35 AM


  12. Religion...the POISON of MANKIND! shame she lives so far away...people like her I actually ENJOY telling off.

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Jul 10, 2008 11:53:32 AM


  13. This is what you'd call a "tangled web". Their line of reasoning is "accommodation", which is more noted for enabling the handicapped to work in a regular office environment. That is, if a reasonable accommodation can be made, such as using another registrar to perform the service, then the officials should have done so. Instead, they chose to make an example to her, and in Britain, it is illegal to disparage religious beliefs (no first amendment for them!). However, there is no reasonable argument on her behalf that her assignment violated her beliefs, so I suspect the precedent is bad. ("I can't do this clerical work, boss, it violates my religious beliefs!") In the US, accommodation cases are rare.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 10, 2008 12:01:40 PM


  14. Oops, "...make and example OF her..."

    Posted by: anon | Jul 10, 2008 12:03:02 PM


  15. So, basically, the council ruled that a secular office, in providing a secular service, must make special accommodation for religion in the refusal to provide that secular state service.

    Don't want to do your job? Get a new job.

    Posted by: MAJeff | Jul 10, 2008 12:19:11 PM


  16. Girlfriend has a paint-by-number seascape on her wall. Kinda says it all, doesn't it?

    Posted by: Christopher | Jul 10, 2008 12:32:42 PM


  17. The point everyone has missed, including the UK Tribunal, is that it's not gay marriage - it's civil partnerships. Nowhere is God or the Bible mentioned in the ceremonies - so what's her problem?

    Posted by: Luke Kenedy | Jul 10, 2008 12:48:05 PM


  18. Do Lillian Ladele's Christian beliefs also extend to refusing to marry anyone who is divorced and whose former spouse is still living? As with most Christians, her faith is selective, discriminatory and self-serving. It's painful to see someone who may have been the object of discrimination herself turn and discriminate against others.

    Posted by: Jeff Atwood | Jul 10, 2008 1:08:16 PM


  19. Right, Luke, et al. If it's against your religion to perform a secular government service which happens to be your job, find a new job.

    Her canning is due to insubordination, plain and simple (or, should be). If "orthodox" anybody believes their government has thrown 'em a big middle finger for this reason or that, then so be it. Don't work for that government. Just go pray for it, or whatever.

    The rest of us have equality to strive for.

    Posted by: JeffRob | Jul 10, 2008 1:14:52 PM


  20. I'm a McDonald's employee but its against my religious beliefs to serve their food to customers because its practically murder by trans fats. God says the body is a temple and I can't reconcile my beliefs with serving deadly food to people. I don't want to lose my job for my religious beliefs, that would obviously be discrimination. So can't I just keep my job and McDonald's changes its entire menu to be in accordance with my personal beliefs? I think that seems fair.

    This is just like the pharmacists who refuse to provide the morning after pill to people. If you can't do the job because of your beliefs, the job is not for you.

    I'm amish but I want an office job. Please don't discriminate just because I won't go near a computer.

    Posted by: Wes | Jul 10, 2008 1:18:43 PM


  21. Such stupid bullshit. Whatever happened to Britain's anti-discrimination law? Seems like she violated that one to hell and back so why isn't her ass canned and the case thrown out?
    Please tell me where her "right" to [technically] discriminate agains GLBT was violated?

    Posted by: Shane | Jul 10, 2008 1:41:06 PM


  22. This judgement was given by an Employment Tribunal, and will undoubtedly provoke a legal response in higher courts as, has been said, Britain does have quite sturdy non-discrimination laws. The "churches" did manage to bully exemptions from the recent Human Rights Act - but, as they say, watch this space.

    Posted by: KJN | Jul 10, 2008 2:41:25 PM


  23. What really riles me about this case is that this ghastly woman has benefitted from the very anti-discrimination and pro-diversity policies which councils are renowned for and which she is now seeking to undermine by refusing to undertake same-sex marriages. And £31,000?!!!! WTF? For doing what exactly? Vastly overpaid. This kind of nonsense is intolerable. She should not get a damn penny. I am fed up of certain people in this country trying to exploit its laws and values in order to promote their own extremely intolerant and bigotted agenda with the taxpayer invariably footing the bill for them.

    As the guy from Stonewall said, 40 years ago people objected to mixed marriages between people of different ethnic origin. Hmm. You can image the uproar if someone objected to them now...

    Posted by: atheist | Jul 10, 2008 4:07:49 PM


  24. I kind of agree with the courts decision. It's not my (our anyone) place to put her at a crossroads between her faith and her job. I don't think they should've given her that much money but at the very least given her the opportunity to pass the job onto someone else.

    Posted by: Pekemo | Jul 10, 2008 4:28:50 PM


  25. Incredible. Next we'll see judges refuse to grant divorces because it is against their religion. We shouldn't expect that ministers and priests be forced to wed same-sex couples against their faith/religion. But this is a government job and regardless of one's faith, one must uphold the duties required by the job. Government jobs require you to uphold the law, not your religion. When we take that away, freedom of religion will go away with it. Because then whoever is in power can impose their religion regardless of the law.

    Posted by: Thrunch | Jul 10, 2008 4:43:12 PM


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