Christians who refused to work with gays lose final court case

Marriage registrar Lillian Ladele and relationship counselor Gary McFarlane, who both refused to work with gay couples, have final appeal blocked

Christians who refused to work with gays lose final court case
28 May 2013

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights have blocked the final legal avenue for two Christians who refused to do their jobs for gay people.

Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane both argued their beliefs meant they couldn’t work with gay and lesbian couples and that forcing them to do so amounted to discrimination.

The court ruled against them on 15 January saying their rights had not been infringed by their employers.

But they tried to bring the case to the court’s Grand Chamber, its final arbiter. Judges however have rejected that request today (28 May), ending their legal battle.

Ladele was a marriage registrar for Islington Borough Council in north London who refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples when they were legalized in 2004.

In 2007 bosses changed the way she was employed, so she could no longer choose to avoid civil partnerships.

She argued Islington bosses were forcing her to choose between her religious beliefs and her job. She won her case in 2008 but an Employment Tribunal Appeal hearing reversed that decision in December of that year and that new ruling in the council’s favor was upheld in 2009 by the British Court of Appeal.

Gary McFarlane’s worked for relationship counseling organization Relate at a time when it was making big strides to include lesbian and gay couples as well as heterosexuals.

He was a sex therapist – which Relate describes as ‘unshockable’ counselors dedicated to people improving their sex lives to help them improve their relationship.

But as a Christian, McFarlane said he wouldn’t be prepared to work with gay and lesbian couples in that way if the subject ever came up.

He was suspended in October 2007 and eventually dismissed for gross misconduct in March 2008.

His case was turned down by an internal appeal board within Relate, then by an Employment Tribunal. An appeal also failed and in 2010 the Court of Appeal twice refused to allow him further appeals.

Both took their cases to the European Court of Human Rights in September last year.

The fact McFarlane and Ladele lost may set a far-reaching precedent, meaning workers across Europe will not be allowed to use their religion as an excuse for refusing services or products to LGBT people.

They were joined by two other Christians, Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin both of whom were banned from wearing their crucifixes at work.

Eweida won her case although Chaplin also lost her’s. Chaplin has today also lost her final appeal, which followed the same route as McFarlane and Ladele.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

A GLAAD first: Transgender woman appointed co-chair of board of directors

Jennifer Boylan to share duties at LGBTI media advocacy organization with Steve Warren
No thumbnail available

Disney princes play princesses in One Direction video

Simon Cowell collaborator Simon Fuller, Madonna choreographer Jamie King, and gay celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, tease new boyband Im5
No thumbnail available

Happy birthday to Madonna

The Material Girl turns 54 today and shows no sign of stopping after nearly three decades in pop
No thumbnail available

Glee’s Puck and Finn become new Kurt and Blaine

Straight characters Puck and Finn will swap bodies with gay couple Kurt and Blaine in an upcoming episode
No thumbnail available

Laverne Cox is on the cover of Time magazine

Described as 'huge' by LGBTI activists, the Orange Is The New Black actress has dedicated the cover for all trans lives who are 'stigmatized, ridiculed, criminalized and disregarded'
No thumbnail available

Catholic college promises to start supporting gay students

Notre Dame University, in Indiana, says it will train all of its staff in how to welcome gay students in the Catholic community
No thumbnail available

Catholic priest accused of refusing to perform last rites to man after finding out he is gay

Ronald Plishka survived heart attack and is still furious: 'The doctors came in and told me to calm down or I’m going to have another heart attack'
No thumbnail available

Cameroon jails man for sending a gay text message

Jean-Claude Roger Mbédé's three-year prison term upheld by appeals court in Cameroon, one of Africa's most anti-gay states
No thumbnail available

Gay German footballer fears for safety if he comes out

A top Bundesliga player has spoken anonymously about being in the closet, saying there is still 'little hope' for gay athletes to be open about their sexuality
No thumbnail available