Lillian Ladele has a good job! One she has enjoyed, until recently. She is the civil marriage registrar for the Islington Council. But she has a problem. As a Christian she cannot conscientiously preside over homosexual domestic partnership ceremonies And that is what the town council expects of her. She feels that such actions are a “violation” of her dignity and Christian rights. The council responded in an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating” way.
Now the Central London Employment Tribunal has ruled that she cannot be forced to act contrary to her conscience in conducting homosexual domestic partnership ceremonies. The panel ruled, “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.”
“[The Council] 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.”
Miss Ladele called the decision “a victory for religious liberty, not just for myself but for others in a similar position to mine. Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs.”
Ladele will now be allowed to arrange with colleagues to handle such cases. The Islington Council had threatened to fire her if she did not conduct a same-sex ceremony. The ruling confirmed, in a unanimous judgment, that Islington Council had directly discriminated against Miss Ladele for her religious beliefs when they refused to consider her for promotion, disciplined and threatened her with dismissal and accused her of gross misconduct. The Council was also found to have failed to redress allegations that she was “homophobic” and had labelled and treated her as “homophobic.” The Employment Tribunal also found that the Council had disregarded Ladele’s concerns about her treatment and failed to apply its anti-discrimination policies to homosexual colleagues who were mistreating her.
Ladele said she had been treated as a “pariah” by co-workers at the Islington Council, after she made it clear that her religious beliefs precluded her participating in civil partnership arrangements. The ruling concurred and found that the Council’s behavior towards Ladele had amounted to unlawful harassment.
Miss Ladele’s Tribunal case was financed and represented by lawyers from the Christian Institute, a non-denominational Christian lobby group. This important ruling confirms that gay rights should not be treated as trumping religious rights. It is hoped that the ruling may slow the witch hunt against those who disagree with homosexual practices. Thus far, the homosexual community has not been content with neutrality. It wants the endorsement of those in opposition. A “climate of fear” has been growing among Christians working as marriage registrars. Earlier another Christian magistrate, Andrew McClintock, lost his final appeal when he claimed conscientious objection based on his religious beliefs. This was after 18 years of experience on the South Yorkshire bench. He was forced to resign from the family courts panel when he could not in conscience place children with homosexual partners for adoption.
Report adapted from a story by Hilary White of LifeSite News