Christian registrar wins employment tribunal over civil partnerships

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Islington council is considering an appeal after an employment tribunal ruled that a registrar was bullied because she refused to perform civil partnership ceremonies that she claimed were against God’s will.

Her victory could set a precedent that will allow people with strong religious convictions to opt out of the provision of services to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

The tribunal ruled that Lillian Ladele was discriminated against on the grounds of her Christian faith and suffered harassment.

“It is an important case, which may have a wider impact than the dispute between the parties,” the tribunal said, adding it accepts that it would be “wrong for one set of rights to trump another.”

“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.”

Ms Ledele, who had worked for the council for more than 16 years, initially swapped with colleagues to avoid performing gay and lesbian ceremonies after civil partnerships became legal in 2005.

After formal complaints were made against her, an internal disciplinary investigation began.

Christian fundamentalist groups have claimed that this employment tribunal will set a precedent about where they can and cannot claim their religious beliefs should be taken into account at work.

The Christian Institute, which funded the employment case, has mounted a string of unsuccessful court challenges to gay equality.

Miss Ladele told the BBC: “I am delighted at this decision.

“It is 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.”