Ludford: Christian registrar case shows EU audit needed of UK equality confusion
London's Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford has welcomed Islington Council's win in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, overturning an earlier ruling that Christian registrar Lilian Ladele was discriminated against when disciplined for refusing to carry out gay civil partnership ceremonies.
Sarah Ludford, who is the Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman, is seeking an audit by the European Commission of UK implementation of EU anti-discrimination law and in particular whether the pretext of religious views is used to undermine a ban on discrimination against gay employees. UK legislation recently boosted the ability of some faith schools to discriminate in their employment practices. The European Commission has replied that it is analysing UK compliance with equality standards.
Sarah commented: "I am encouraged that the Commission appears to be actively questioning UK compliance with EU law designed to outlaw discrimination of the grounds of sexual orientation. Religious freedoms must be respected but not at the expense of upholding civil liberties for all."
"But while the Labour government's apparent indulgence of religiously-based prejudice could make it very difficult for lesbian and gay teachers to find work in faith schools, at least the Ladele case is an encouraging sign that UK courts will uphold the principle that religion cannot trump the right to equal treatment."
Liberal Democrat campaigner and London euro candidate Jonathan Fryer said: "The UK must be uncompromising in ensuring equality for the LGBT community. Great strides have been made in tackling homophobia, but it is still vital that LGBT people in London and the UK as a whole are not treated like second class citizens."