Magistrate who opposed gay adoption loses ‘religious discrimination’ battle

Magistrate Richard Page

A Family Court magistrate who opposed gay couples adopting children has lost a legal appeal against the decision to sack him.

Richard Page was stripped of his position as a Family Court magistrate in 2015,  after claiming during an adoption case that it would be better for a child to be placed “with a mother and father” than with the prospective parents, who were a gay couple.

Page was struck off by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, but sought to challenge the decision on the basis that he was a victim of “religious discrimination” and was being “persecuted” for his Christian faith.

Magistrate loses ‘discrimination’ claim

However, on Wednesday (June 19) an Employment Appeal Tribunal judge dismissed his legal challenge.

Mr Justice Choudhury affirmed that Page was not sacked for being a Christian, but because he had “chosen to advertise the bias that he would apply in the exercise of his judicial functions,” and had “disregarded” instructions by speaking to the media about the case.

The judge agreed with a finding that Page’s comments “had not amounted to a protected act” on the grounds of religion.

Magistrate Richard Page

Magistrate Richard Page (Christian Legal Centre)

Page was represented in the case by the Christian Legal Centre, an anti-LGBT lobbying group that frequently represents people sacked over homophobic views.

The group claims the Page “only wanted to do what was best for the child” by refusing to place it with same-sex parents, and claimed he has “been unfairly dismissed and ruled out of public life.”

Page added: “This shows that we are now living in a deeply intolerant society which cannot stand any dissent from politically correct views – even from judges. I hope that we can appeal this decision and restore freedom of speech across the country.”

However, the ruling was celebrated by pro-LGBT campaigners.

Being religious ‘does not give you right to ignore the rules’

National Secular Society chief executive Stephen Evans said: “Rather than reaching decisions based on the evidence before him, Richard Page has shown a willingness bring his personal views to bear. In a secular legal system, judges must not allow their personal religious convictions to intrude.

“By allowing his personal religious views to influence his judicial decision-making, Mr Page undermined the principle of impartiality, and therefore, the judiciary itself. The court is therefore right to reject his appeal.”

Page also lost a separate challenge against the NHS Trust he was dismissed from amid the row.

Evans said: “Mr Page wasn’t victimised because of his Christian beliefs, but because he risked undermining public confidence in the NHS by expressing personal views in media interviews without informing the Trust, which he had been expressly told to do.

“This ruling reaffirms the position that being religious does not give you the right to ignore employers’ rules or be accorded special treatment.”