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Christian registrar's appeal blocked

16 March 2010

Christian registrar Lillian Ladele has been refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court over claims that she was discriminated against by being asked to perform civil partnership ceremonies. The Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in December that she was not a victim of direct or indirect discrimination, agreeing with the judgment of Mr Justice Elias at the EAT.

Giving judgment in Ladele v London Borough of Islington [2009] EWCA Civ 1357, Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls, said that under the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 it was “simply unlawful” for Ladele to refuse to perform civil partnerships.

Lord Neuberger, Lady Justice Smith and Lord Justice Dyson dismissed the appeal (see solicitorsjournal.com 15 December, 2009). The Supreme Court is said to have rejected her claim on the grounds that it did not raise a point of law of general public importance. Ladele is reported as saying her religious rights had been “trampled by another set of rights” and to be considering taking her legal battle to Europe.

Councillor Ruth Polling, executive member for equalities at Islington Council, welcomed the judgment: “We’ve always maintained that public sector employees must carry out their duties without discrimination and Islington was right to insist this of all our staff.”

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said he was “relieved” that the Supreme Court had refused to hear the case. “Had Ms Ladele’s case succeeded it would have completely undermined equal treatment under the law for gay people and unlocked the floodgates to many other damaging challenges to equality legislation.”

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