Britain’s best-known legal journalist, Joshua Rozenberg, has previewed the case of Lillian Ladele which is being heard by the European Court of Human Rights next week.
His preview has been published by the Law Society Gazette. You can read his article in full on their website.
He said: “Ladele has a sincere religious objection to registering civil partnerships.
“She is unable to reconcile her Christian beliefs with enabling same-sex unions to be given formal legal recognition, which she regards as equivalent to marriage.”
He added: “before the Civil Partnership Act 2004 had even been passed by parliament, Ladele asked Islington not to designate her as a civil partnerships registrar.
“The council was under no obligation to do so: it simply needed to make sure there were enough to go round. But Islington chose to designate all its existing registrars for civil partnership duties.”
Miss Ladele’s case is being paid for by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund. Mr Rozenberg said: “Ladele has secured the services of Dinah Rose QC as her leading counsel – thereby greatly increasing her chances of success.”
He said that Miss Ladele “says her conscientious objections could have been accommodated without any adverse effect on the service provided by the council.
“Far from demonstrating its commitment to diversity and equal opportunities, Islington defeated that commitment by unnecessarily excluding a committed Christian from her job.
“That was not what the Court of Appeal thought. It said that Islington’s ‘legitimate aim’ was to minimise discrimination among its staff”.
He continued: “Ladele’s arguments are opposed by the UK government and in written submissions by the National Secular Society.
“Both call for a wide margin of appreciation – in effect, discretion for states to do largely as they wish.”
Mr Rozenberg concludes: “Everyone should respect the rights of same-sex couples to register civil partnerships in accordance with the law.
“But we should also respect the rights of those with religious convictions, so long as those beliefs do not conflict with the rights of others.
“Surely a fair and balanced approach to both rights is not too much to ask?”