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The U.K. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by a Christian registrar forced by her employers to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies, saying the case does not raise issues of “general public importance.”
Lillian Ladele said she is “disappointed” and feels her religious rights have been “trampled by another set of rights,” according to a report by the Christian Institute. She is now considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Ladele had been a registrar for 16 years for London’s Islington City Council. But when she refused to perform a homosexual civil union due to her religious beliefs, her employers threatened her with dismissal and purportedly passed confidential employment details about her to a staff LGBT forum.
The Employment Tribunal ruled in favor of Ladele after the first court hearing in July 2008, but a December 2008 ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal overturned the initial decision. The court of appeals affirmed the appeal tribunal’s decision in December.
Ladele was seeking to overturn the decision, but the Supreme Court has now rejected her request.
A court document states, “The court ordered that permission to appeal be refused because the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance which ought to be considered by the Supreme Court at this time, bearing in mind that the case has already been the subject of judicial decision and reviewed on appeal.”
Ladele, speaking to the Christian Institute through her lawyer, said, “I am naturally disappointed by the Supreme Court’s rejection of my application for appeal. … When the rights of different groups clash, as they have in my case, surely there must be a proportionate attempt to balance those competing rights. In my case, one set of rights was trampled by another set of rights. That cannot be right in a free and democratic society. I believe my case raises important issues of liberty that deserve further consideration by the courts.”
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, celebrated the Supreme Court decision.
“A clear message has been sent out that those people providing public services or performing public functions, such as civil partnership ceremonies, have a duty to treat services users equally, with dignity and respect, as the public authority itself must,” he said. “In a modern liberal democracy, there can be no ‘opt out’ for those who say they are unable to do their jobs because they wish to discriminate, even when that desire to discriminate derives from a religious belief.”
The Christian Institute’s Legal Defense Fund is financing Ladele’s legal battle. Christian Institute spokesman Mike Judge said, “Christians will feel let down by the Supreme Court decision.
“It will only serve to reinforce the impression that Christians are being pushed to the sidelines of public life. Our nation’s highest court has effectively told them their concerns are not of general public importance.”