A Labour leadership candidate has slammed Christian registrar Lillian Ladele – who was bullied at work and disciplined for her religious stance on homosexual civil partnerships.
Diane Abbott also told homosexual news website, pinknews.co.uk, that she is “in favour of same-sex marriage” and removing the safeguards on homosexual men giving blood.
Miss Abbott accused Miss Ladele of using her religion as a “cover for homophobia”, despite Islington Council accepting that the Christian registrar’s religious beliefs were worthy of respect.
Miss Ladele had been working at Islington Council for several years as a registrar of births, deaths and marriages with an “excellent” employment record.
When the law changed to permit homosexual civil partnerships, she politely requested an accommodation of her religious beliefs.
Managers at Islington Council admitted at an Employment Tribunal that the council was able to deliver a ‘first class’ civil partnership service to homosexual couples without Miss Ladele’s involvement.
Despite this, bosses treated her request as a freestanding act of gross misconduct, threatened her with dismissal and passed confidential employment details about her to a staff LGBT forum.
Miss Abbott said: “I was very opposed to this registrar in Islington who said that her religion didn’t allow her to marry gay couples, and I just think people are using religion as a cover for their homophobia and it’s just wrong.”
She insisted: “You have to distinguish between people’s right to believe something and to practise their religion and the point at which they interact with the public. You cannot use religion as an excuse for discrimination.”
Mark Jones, Miss Ladele’s solicitor, spoke in her defence after a ruling at an Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2008. He said: “The evidence showed that Lillian performed all of her duties to the same high standard for the LGBT community as she did for everyone”.
Miss Abbott also attacked Roman Catholic adoption agencies in her interview with pinknews.co.uk, saying she was opposed to them getting state funding.
The Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has been an ardent activist for same-sex civil partnerships and is now pushing for ‘homosexual marriage’.
She commented: “As far as I’m concerned, you might as well move to gay marriage and I think we will in due course.”
Lillian Ladele is set to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights after the UK Supreme Court refused to hear her case.