Religious people could have the legal entitlement to discriminate on conscientious grounds against gay people after an employment tribunal ruled in favour of a Christian council worker.
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights and human rights campaigner, said that the ruling in favour of Lillian Ladele is “a dangerous subversion of the democratic principle that everyone should have equal rights and responsibilities under the law.”
Ms Ladele, a marriage registrar, claimed that she was discriminated against because of her religion when she refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies while employed by Islington council.
Today an employment tribunal agreed, with wide-ranging implications for society.
“The tribunal has ruled that people of faith are above the law,” said Mr Tatchell.
“They can plead conscientious objection and be exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else.
“If this judgment stands, it will pave the way for religious people to have the legal entitlement to discriminate on conscientious grounds against people of other faiths, unmarried parents and many others who they condemn as immoral.
“We could soon find religious police officers, solicitors, fire fighters and doctors refusing to serve members of the public who they find morally objectionable – and being allowed to do so by the law.
“Lillian Ladele claims she was won a victory for religious liberty. No, she has not.
“She has won a victory for the right to discriminate. The denial of equal treatment is not a human right. It is a violation of human rights.
“Public servants like registrars have a duty to serve all members of the public without fear or favour. Once society lets some people opt out of upholding the law, where will it end?”
Islington council said it is considering an appeal.