A Christian registrar who claimed religious discrimination has today been denied an appeal by the European Court of Human Rights, in a move described as a “sad day for liberty of conscience”.
Lillian Ladele was claiming religious discrimination after being forced out of her Islington Council job over her conscientious objection to same-sex civil partnerships.
She was seeking to appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights after losing a 5-2 majority decision in January.
Two other Christians, Shirley Chaplin and Gary McFarlane, also had their applications for appeal turned down.
Miss Ladele’s case was backed financially by national charity, The Christian Institute.
A spokesman for the Institute said: “We are disappointed that the court has refused leave to appeal, and it just confirms our fears that people with Christian beliefs about marriage will be penalised in the workplace.
“Human rights laws are supposed to stop the power of the state being used to penalise people for their beliefs and opinions, particularly when those beliefs challenge the prevailing orthodoxy.
“The Government has been saying people who have Christian beliefs about marriage will be protected by human rights laws, but today’s decision shows that is a hollow promise.
“Whether you agree with Lillian’s Christian beliefs or not, this is a sad day for liberty of conscience in Europe.”
In 2003 Lillian Ladele told her managers at Islington Council that, should civil partnerships ever become law, she would have a conflict of conscience based upon her Christian beliefs about marriage.
Following the introduction of civil partnerships, Miss Ladele wrote to her employer in 2006 asking for a reasonable accommodation of her religious objection to same-sex civil partnerships.
Islington accepted that it had enough registrars to provide a civil partnership service to the public without requiring Miss Ladele’s involvement.
But managers at the council refused her request, and demanded that she carry out civil partnership registrations against her will.
Miss Ladele won her case at an employment tribunal in 2008, but the decision was overturned on appeal.
Subsequent rulings by British courts upheld that finding, before the case went to Europe.