Registrar dismissed for refusing to perform same-sex weddings wins employment tribunal

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An employment tribunal has found in favour of a Christian registrar who was let go after she refused to perform same-sex weddings.

54-year-old Margaret Jones, who was senior deputy registrar at Bedford register office, claims her employer was discriminating against her when she was let go for refusing to perform her duties earlier this year.

Jones claimed in her witness statement that she was told in March to either start performing same-sex marriages or resign – though she left the job before actually refusing any same-sex couples.

She said: “As I have not yet done anything wrong, I am being sacked for my belief, not my actions,

“I want people who get married to have a good experience, and I don’t think I could stand up and say that it ‘gives me great pleasure’ to declare a gay couple married.”

The tribunal overturned the decision by Central Bedfordshire council, noting Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance “[encourages] employers and employees to find reasonable solutions to religion or belief issues at work”.

Central Bedfordshire council told the Sunday Times: “These are complex issues and we are responding to relatively new legislation, which means the council’s duty not to discriminate has to be balanced against employees’ individual rights.

“Our decisions have been based on the guidance available to us at the time.”

Jones says she will not be returning to her job, despite the victory.

Christian Legal Centre barrister Paul Diamond said: “All good employers should follow this precedent, and practising Christians should no longer fear expressing their beliefs.”