Daily View 2×2: 15 December 2009


It’s December 15th. It’s 4 years since Latvia amended its constitution so that same-sex couples would not be entitled to marry.

2 Big Stories

Registrar who refused to carry out civil partnership ceremonies loses appeal
Islington Council has won its High Court appeal against a ruling that it had discriminated against a Christian registrar who refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.

From the Islington Tribune:

Lillian Ladele, 48, had hoped to overturn a decision by a top employment tribunal judge who had backed Islington Council in the dispute.
The council said Ms Ladele’s religious beliefs, that same sex unions were “sinful”, clashed with their strict employment codes and meant she was failing to fulfil her duties.

High Court “Master of the Rolls” Lord Justice Dyson dismissed the appeal this morning and ordered Ms Ladele, who was not present in court, to pay costs.
In a 17 page judgement, Lord Dyson said: “Islington wished to ensure that all their registrars were designated to conduct, and did conduct, civil partnerships as they regarded this as consistent with their strong commitment to fighting discrimination, and internally in the sense of relations with and between their employees. I find it very hard to see how this could be challenged.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Ruth Polling (Islington’s cabinet member for Equalities) said,

This is very welcome news. The judgement is the right one as it confirms all public sector employees must carry out their duties without discrimination and Islington was right to insist this of all our staff. We are delighted it provides much-needed clarity for employers across the country.”

You can read more here.

Berlusconi joins long list of targeted politicians
This isn’t what Simon Cowell had in mind when he suggested that the public connect with politicians.
The Associated Press‘s roundup of recent “direct action” on political leaders:

Italy’s debate follows a familiar pattern: How much security is necessary when politicians seek to mingle with their public?

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • What on Earth is happening to British politics? Jeremy Rowe’s take on Simon Cowell’s Newsnight brainstorm: “Do we really need a political X-Factor to add further celebrity glow to what ought to be a serious business?”
  • The Film of Stupid – or at least treating people as stupid. Wit and Wisdom’s review of climate change film “The Age of Stupid”: “The film started well on a good premise but it gradually departed from the appropriate tone and descended into the preachy manure that is the bane of the green ‘movement’ and which is undoubtedly the primary cause of high levels of public scepticism. People don’t like being told what to do.”

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

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13 Comments

  • Grammar Police 15th Dec '09 - 5:02pm

    The court considered, among other issues, whether the London Borough of Islington were entitled to compel a registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths to register civil partnerships even though the registrar objected to officiating at such registrations on the grounds of her religious beliefs. The court upheld the EAT’s decision that there had been no direct or indirect discrimination contrary to the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regs 2003, whether by being designated a civil partnership registrar, by being required to officiate at civil partnerships, or by any other aspect of her treatment by Islington. In particular, the respondent’s policy to designate all their registrars civil partnership registrars and to require all registrars to perform civil partnerships was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim within Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regs 2003, reg 3(1) . The court also held that in the light of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regs 2007, specifically reg 3(1), the respondents had no alternative but to insist on the registrar performing her duties.

  • I don’t particularly see what there is to celebrate about this verdict. How is it a good thing that there is no room for those who take a different view to participate in the public services? Her moral stance did not mean that people were stopped from participating in civil partnership ceremonies. I find it alarming that the mood here seems to be celebratory rather than critical of the clearly illiberal nature of the legislation which has led to this ruling.

  • @Tom

    This is absolutely a cause for celebration. The woman is a bigot, plain and simple. The fact that she’s sincere bigot doesn’t excuse her. She’s entitled to her beliefs just like anyone else, but as a public servant she has no more right to be excused from conducting same-sex ceremonies than a registrar with racist beliefs should be excused from conducting inter-racial ones.

  • You may think it is bigoted for someone to believe that homosexuality is wrong. However, your decision to equate Christianity and racism seems fairly bigoted to me.

    Again: she doesn’t argue for the prevention of civil partnerships per se, nor does her refusal to perform them prevent couples from taking part in them if they so wish. How is it liberal to prevent people from living out their beliefs, as long as they don’t harm others? Who’s being harmed here (apart from her)?

  • Tom –

    The essence of building up a liberal society must start with the employees of the ‘state’ (here, local government). If we say that it is perfectly alright for a tax-funded employee to not carry out her job, and in the process alienate a segment of society, there is no basis from which we can urge toleration and, through such, a harmonious and truly liberal society.

  • Futhermore (sorry), I just realised your sanitising of homophobia thorugh incredulity that it can compare with racism. They are of the same material. It is not in the slightest “bigoted” to point this out – nor was iain even comparing Christianity to racism – rather, as I have said, homophobia.

  • The process here is the important thing though. She took the job before its requirements were at odds with her beliefs. Is it perfectly alright for the state, in changing the terms of that job’s requirements, to force a particular political viewpoint on an individual, regardless of whether or not the overall service provided will be affected? Once again, no element of society is being alienated here, because the outcome of this case makes not a jot of difference to the couples who desire civil partnership ceremonies. You mention ‘toleration’ – does that extend to religious adherents?

    As for ‘sanitising homophobia’ – I will attempt to avoid semantic wranglings over what homophobia is or is not, but iainm stated that the woman was a bigot. She holds the views she has because she is a Christian. As far as I am concerned that implies that Christians are bigots.

  • “If we say that it is perfectly alright for a tax-funded employee to not carry out her job,”

    That is a principle that is well recognised in some other areas though – most notably an opt-out for medical staff regarding abortion procedures.

    “Is it perfectly alright for the state, in changing the terms of that job’s requirements, to force a particular political viewpoint on an individual, regardless of whether or not the overall service provided will be affected?”

    I have some sympathy with this view – it is possible to argue that she wouldn’t have taken the job under the current legislation. That is different to someone who took the job post the Civil Partnership legislation

    According to Grammar Police the court said this was a proportionate means of achieving the required end. That doesn’t mean that it was the only route open.

    Though as usual in these cases I wonder whether the person who has such profound objections to what bits people rub their genitals against have equally strong views against marrying people wearing wedding dresses of mixed fibres or serving prawn cocktails at the reception.

  • “but iainm stated that the woman was a bigot. She holds the views she has because she is a Christian.”

    It’s the views that make you a bigot, not why you hold them.

    Plenty of Christians hold opposite views. My “own” Church* accepted the legitimacy of homosexual relationships whilst they were still illegal and held religous celebrations of such relationships well before the civil partnership legislation.

    *this is stretching a point massively – you can’t be a lapsed Quaker but if you could I am one!

  • The KKK is publically supporting her. Thought that was interesting.

  • David Allen 18th Jan '10 - 6:18pm

    Islington should let bigots quietly opt out of conducting ceremonies they don’t believe in. In fact, they should insist on it. Would you want your partnership ceremony ruined by a registrar going through it all with a (metaphorical) peg on her nose?

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