Christian registrar demoted for refusing to officiate civil partnerships
Theresa Davies, a registrar for Islington Council, has claimed she was forced out of her post as registrar because of her religious beliefs against civil partnerships.
Davies, who had worked for Islington Council for 18 years, said she had asked to opt out of performing civil partnerships in 2006.
While her request was being considered, Davies took four months off work due to stress. On her return she was told that she would either be demoted or dismissed.
Instead of leaving the council, Davies chose to take on the offered position of receptionist, which she described as “humiliating”.
Last July, she was put back on the general rota. However, in January this year she failed to turn up to a ceremony she was supposed to be overseeing. Consequently, she was told that unless she presided over civil partnerships she would be demoted from her position.
“I know of other councils that have allowed Christian registrars to carry on by ensuring that colleagues are given civil partnerships,” said Davies. “But I was told this was not Islington’s policy.”
With the help of the Christian Legal Centre, Miss Davies will launch a grievance procedure against the council, on the grounds that she was a victim of discrimination because of her religious beliefs.
Davies has also presented her case in a letter to the House of Lords, in an attempt to challenge what she describes as the “militant political-sexual libertarian lobby” at Islington Council.
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Davies’ friend and colleague, Lillian Ladele, launched a similar case against the council last summer. However, an Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled in December that Islington Council had acted lawfully in expecting all its registration staff to perform civil partnership ceremonies.
“Britain is supposed to be a nation that respects freedom of conscience,” Davies told the Mail on Sunday. “But my conscience is not being respected. If Islington Council believes in dignity for all, why can’t my beliefs be accommodated and why is my dignity not being respected?”
Davies has likened presiding over civil partnership ceremonies to doctors performing abortions, arguing that the same leniency on religious grounds should apply.
An Islington Council spokesman told the Mail: “Following detailed discussions with Miss Davies, a year ago she accepted another job in the same team that did not require her to conduct civil partnerships or marriages.
“Miss Davies made no formal response to a recent consultation on a restructure in the registrars’ department, and we have no reason to think she was unhappy with her role.”
Islington council argues that it expects employees to provide services to all sections of the community.