Christian registrar who refused same-sex weddings wins discrimination case

Published 01 September 2014  |  

A Christian registrar who refused to perform same-sex weddings has won a discrimination court battle.

(AP)

Margaret Jones, a senior deputy registrar, lost her job at Bedford register office after refusing to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies, though she was willing to do the necessary paperwork.

Jones was told on March 28 that she would have to perform same-sex marriages as part of her duties, or resign.

"I want people who get married to have a good experience, and I don't think I could stand up and say that it 'gives me great pleasure' to declare a gay couple married," Jones explained in her witness statement.

She also added that she was fired before she was even scheduled to perform a same-sex wedding.

"As I have not yet done anything wrong, I am being sacked for my belief, not my actions," she argued.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Jones took the council – who claimed she had bought it "into disrepute" – to court over her dismissal.

The appeal ruled that her employer failed to take a "balanced view" of her religious beliefs, The Sunday Times reports.

This ruling is in line with guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which encourages workplaces to find "reasonable solutions" to issues of religious liberty, and is likely to result in greater freedom of religion within the workplace.

"All good employers should follow this precedent, and practising Christians should no longer fear expressing their beliefs," Paul Diamond, barrister to the Christian Legal Centre said.

The law allowing same-sex couples to wed in England and Wales took effect on March 29 of this year, though legislation protects religious groups including the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church from facing legal action if they choose not to conduct gay marriages.

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