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Friday, 18 July 2008

Christian registrar: the pressure mounts

I knew this one would run and run. The Christian registrar in Islington, Lillian Ladele, now has a Commons Early Day Motion (EDM) in her honour. In short, it calls for a recognition that she's a bigot. All right, it doesn't say that exactly – but it amounts to the same thing.

Islington Council, you may remember, has said it will appeal against the ruling of an employment tribunal that found that Ladele was right to refuse to register civil partnerships because it went against her religion (see also here and here).

The wording of the EDM is this:

That this House notes that an Islington registrar has won an industrial tribunal case giving her the right to refuse to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual and lesbian couples on the grounds of her religious beliefs; further notes that civil partnerships are legally not the same as Christian marriage; further notes that the Holy Scriptures are entirely silent on the question of civil partnerships; notes with concern that the case could set a precedent for any public servant refusing to treat all members of the public equally because of self-defined religious beliefs; believes that no public servant should be allowed to discriminate on this arbitrary basis; and, should this case not be reversed on appeal, calls on the Government to clarify and, if necessary, amend the law to guard the public against discrimination and prejudice by public servants in the future.

It's been put by Diane Abbot, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, and has been signed by five others. Early Day Motions are rarely debated on the floor, and remain open for signatures for the rest of the parliamentary session.

So don't hold your breath, but it's a sign that the pressure is mounting for a clarification of conflicting laws that seem to forbid discrimination in goods and services to people on the grounds of (inter alia) sexuality and yet allow just that on religious grounds.

Ms Ladele hasn't won yet. Not quite.

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