A Christian registrar, Lillian Ladele, is presenting her case to an employment tribunal after her Council employers refused to grant her a conscience exemption from registering same-sex unions.
Miss Ladele, who currently works for Islington Council, has been a registrar for nearly 16 years. Before the Civil Partnerships Act came into effect in 2005 she asked to be excused from registering civil partnerships between same-sex couples because to do so would conflict with her religious beliefs.
She has subsequently been disciplined by her employers, and other colleagues have been allowed to choose not to work with her because of her beliefs.
Miss Ladele says that although the law requires local authorities to provide a civil partnership service, the requirement does not extend to individual registrars.
Her case will be heard by an employment tribunal beginning on Tuesday, 20 May, and is expected to last four days. Miss Ladele’s lawyers will argue to the tribunal that by forcing her to take part in forming civil partnerships against her conscience, Islington Council are infringing equality laws.
Miss Ladele said: “This is a subject on which there are a variety of views in our society. As a matter of religious conscience, I simply can’t take part in the formation of a civil partnership.”
She continued: “I am not seeking to obstruct people forming civil partnerships and I have many colleagues who are willing to assist with the formation of civil partnerships. Other local authorities in this situation have agreed to accommodate individual consciences.
“Unfortunately, after nearly 16 years’ service, this is unacceptable to my local authority, although it has decided it is acceptable for colleagues to choose not to work with me because they object to my religious beliefs.
“I believe that forcing someone to work contrary to their conscience and under threat of dismissal is not right. If we are genuine when we talk about diversity and equality then shouldn’t we be prepared to tolerate a range of views, not simply those we agree with?”