The equality commission’s commitment to protect religious liberty in the workplace has been put in doubt by one of its own commissioners.
Angela Mason claims the commission will break its promise to support the principle of ‘reasonable adjustment’ for the religious beliefs of staff in the workplace.
She was formerly head of homosexual activist group Stonewall and currently sits as a commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Last month the commission issued a public statement saying it would intervene in four religious liberty cases going to the European Court of Human Rights.
Yesterday homosexual news website, Pink News, reported Angela Mason saying: “The commission has already decided not to put forward ‘reasonable adjustment’ arguments if we do continue with our intervention.”
One of the cases heading for Europe is that of Lillian Ladele, a marriage registrar who was disciplined because she asked whether her religious beliefs about same-sex civil partnerships could be accommodated in her workplace.
Miss Ladele took her employers to a tribunal claiming religious discrimination, saying she had been bullied because of her beliefs. She won her case initially, but the decision was overturned on appeal.
The commission said last month that English courts are interpreting equality laws too narrowly and setting the bar too high to prove religious discrimination.
The commission called for a reasonable accommodation, where possible, for religious believers in the workplace.
But now Angela Mason has put the commission’s commitment to religious liberty in doubt.
Her comments have been welcomed by Stonewall, but the commission has not formally responded.
After Angela Mason stepped down as head of Stonewall, she became Head of the Government’s Women and Equality Unit, then based in the Department for Communities and Local Government.
In that post she was responsible for the Civil Partnership Act, the Equality Act 2006, and setting up the Equality and Human Rights Commission on which she now serves as a commissioner.
In 2008 activists objected to the appointment of Joel Edwards, former head of the Evangelical Alliance, as an equality commissioner. He is no longer a commissioner.
The commission’s reputation amongst Christians is low after a string of anti-Christian interventions, including its pursuit of a legal case against the Christian owners of a B&B who permit only married couples to share a bed.
The commission won their legal action and the Christians were ordered to pay £3,600 in damages to a homosexual couple.
The commission then issued another action seeking to increase the penalty against the Christian couple, although this was later dropped.
In a separate case a lawyer for the commission said children could be at risk of ‘infection’ if they were placed with Christian foster parents. The commission apologised for the offensive remark.