Terry Sanderson: The decision in favour of a registrar who refused to deal with gay couples sets a dangerous precedent
In a decision with potentially disastrous implications for the government’s equality agenda (not to mention the idea of a secular society), an employment tribunal has upheld a claim from a Christian registrar that she suffered direct discrimination after she was “bullied” and “harassed” for refusing to conduct civil partnerships for gay couples.
The ruling appears to place the religious “conscience” of registrars above their legal duty to carry out parliament’s legislation. If it is not overturned on appeal, and it sets a precedent, where could it lead? Will other public servants be permitted to refuse services on the grounds that their religion does not permit them to approve of their clients lifestyles?
Firemen refusing to rescue co-habiting couples from burning buildings? Doctors refusing to treat people with HIV? Police officers refusing to come to the aid of unmarried mothers?