We anticipated in this blog at the beginning of the year the emergence of more cases illustrating the tension between (a) in the right corner: the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex orientation and (b) in the left corner: the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of religious belief. We were right !
You may recall the case of Mrs Ladele and Islington Borough Council. Mrs Ladele, a Christian registrar, refused to carry out gay weddings because of her religious beliefs. She brought a discrimination claim on the grounds of harassment and missed promotion opportunities because of her refusal to carry out same sex weddings. She originally won her Employment Tribunal claim but in December faced disappointment at the Employment Appeal Tribunal who ruled that the council had acted lawfully in expecting all its registration staff to perform ceremonies. We understand Mrs Ladele is challenging this decision in the Court of Appeal.
Further developments today. Another registrar from Islington Council, Miss Davies, has alleged that she was given the choice of being demoted to a receptionist role or being dismissed if she did not carry out gay weddings. Miss Davies is seeking to resolve this issue internally as she has launched the grievance procedure against the Council but given that Miss Davies has written to the House of Lords today complaining of alleged ‘militant political-sexual libertarian lobby’ at the Council we may well see this case end up in Tribunal.
Our view? Ideally, in cases like these you would hope that some internal compromise could have been reached. If not, then surely the Employment Appeal Tribunal are correct and we cannot rely on anti- discrimination laws to justify discrimination? We await to hear from either the Employment Tribunal in the case of Miss Davies or the House of Lords in the case of Mrs Ladele on this one……