Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 15:20 UK

Registrar wins same-sex tribunal

Lillian Ladele said she felt delighted

A marriage registrar was harassed for refusing to conduct same-sex ceremonies, a tribunal has ruled.

Lillian Ladele, who said the civil partnership ceremonies went against her Christian faith, hailed the decision as a "victory for religious liberty".

The tribunal ruled that Miss Ladele was discriminated against on grounds of religious beliefs and was harassed.

Islington council said it was "disappointed" and was considering an appeal against the ruling.

'Wider implications'

Until December 2007 registrars in Islington effectively worked on a freelance basis and could swap with each other to avoid same-sex ceremonies14 But since then they have been under direct control of the local authority which, it is claimed, has led to far less flexibility about the registrars' responsibilities.

Miss Ladele said she was being effectively forced to choose between her religion and her 31,000-a-year job as a result.

Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs
Lillian Ladele

She said she was picked on, shunned and accused of being homophobic for refusing to carry out civil partnerships.

Miss Ladele said: "I am delighted at this decision.

"It is a victory for religious liberty, not just for myself but for others in a similar position to mine.

"Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs," she said.

Councillor John Gilbert, Islington Council's Executive Member for Human Resources, said: "We're clearly disappointed with the result, as we consider our approach was the right one.

"We are now considering the judgment carefully in order to decide whether we should appeal.

"The wider issue of whether councils should be able to expect employees to carry out civil partnerships doesn't seem to have been fully addressed."

He added the ruling could have "wider implications" for local authorities.

'Catastrophic judgement'

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the ruling was a "dangerous subversion" and a "violation of human rights".

"Lillian Ladele claims she has won a victory for religious liberty. No, she has not. She has won a victory for the right to discriminate," he said.

"Public servants like registrars have a duty to serve all members of the public without fear or favour. Once society lets some people opt out of upholding the law, where will it end?"

Condemning the "catastrophic judgement" the National Secular Society said: "This decision appears to show that religious rights trump gay rights and that should leave gay people quaking in their boots."

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