...a blog by Richard Flowers

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 2748: Religious Right trumps Gay Rights


Or do they?

The news that the Registrar who won't marry gay daddies because of her religion, Ms Lillian Ladle, has won her case should be treated with a little bit of caution.

She CLAIMS that this is a "victory for religious liberty". But is it?

It is important to recognise that Ms Ladle's complaint was that she had been BULLIED about her refusal to comply with the terms of her job (namely, provide marriage for anyone who asks).

Would things have turned out the same way if the council had merely politely required her to do her job?

(It should be said that the Council denied abusing Ms Ladle, indeed said that some of her gay co-workers felt abused by HER, but that was not the finding of the Tribunal.)

We should also notice that her job has recently CHANGED, from being effectively freelance – where she could do swapsies to avoid doing her job if it involved the no-doubt onerous task of pronouncing two gay daddies husband and husband – to working directly for the council where she was forced to make a direct refusal. So it's not completely fair to say that she should just lump it, when she previously had a legitimate loophole that didn't DENY anyone a marriage while allowing her to get on with finding it ICKY.

We might want to remember, though, that people CHOOSING the registry office for their marriage have DECIDED that they do not want religion sticking its oar into their big day. Is this in fact the sort of job that a person with "religious objections" is really cut out for?

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

But equally, religious freedoms should not be used as an excuse to deny people equal treatment just because you have a personal prejudice.

And we can't get around the fact that refusing to treat gay daddies equally for no other reason than BECAUSE they are gay daddies IS a prejudice. Ms Ladle might not like being TOLD that she is homophobic, but unfortunately that is exactly what she IS.


Andy said...

Does an actual text of the tribunal's verdict exist online anywhere? It strikes me that much of the media coverage of this case has been driven by Ladele's comments, and that she is probably playing up the "bullying" she faced. I would be interested to know on exactly what gounds the tribunal itself thinks it upheld her complaint.

Erik said...

The text of the judgment is given at

It makes me feel both sides behaved badly.

The tribunal repeatedly stress that Miss Ladele's views were "orthodox" Christian ones. It would be interesting to know what religion they each profess.