Govt won’t support Christian registrar’s case in Europe

Tue, 13 Dec 2011

Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar who was disciplined for her stance on civil partnerships, will not receive the backing of the UK Government when her case reaches Europe.

Miss Ladele’s case is one of a quartet of religious liberty cases involving Christians that are set to appear before the European Court of Human Rights.

The Government has decided not to support any of the four Christians in Europe, instead backing previous rulings from British courts.

Reasonable

Supporters of Miss Ladele say there were plenty of registrars at Islington Council who could have easily provided a civil partnership service without requiring her involvement.

They say there could have been a ‘reasonable accommodation’ of her religious beliefs that would not have affected service delivery.

Two of the other cases heading to Europe involve Christians who wanted to wear a cross at work.

Hide

Nadia Eweida wanted to wear a small cross on the outside of her uniform, but bosses at British Airways ordered her to hide it.

And Shirley Chaplin was told by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust that she could not wear a cross around her neck while she worked on hospital wards.

The other case involves Gary McFarlane, a Christian counsellor who was sacked because he did not want to give sex advice to homosexual couples.

Wrong

The Government, in 40 pages of legal arguments, said the UK was “entitled to conclude” that “other than in limited prescribed circumstances, religious belief does not justify discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation”.

It also said that the Christians were not protected because neither wearing a cross nor following their conscience at work was a core requirement of their faith.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is intervening in the four cases heading to Europe. In the Ladele and McFarlane cases the Commission is backing the British courts.

But earlier this year the EHRC, in a consultation it was running on the cases, found a majority of respondents said the courts – and the commission – have got it wrong.