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Landmark rulings strengthen gay rights in UK workplace

Discrimination against gay people in the workplace will be treated more harshly by the courts after two landmark judgments yesterday.

Lillian Ladele, the registrar who refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies "as a matter of religious conscience", lost her case against Islington council in north London. And Stephen English, a married man who was driven out of his job after being repeatedly called a "faggot" by colleagues had an employment tribunal ruling that he had not been the victim of sexual harassment overturned by the court of appeal.

The employment appeal tribunal ruled that Islington council had been entitled to discipline Ladele and threaten her with dismissal, even though her conduct was the result of "her strong and genuinely held Christian beliefs".

The council had been entitled to the view that "it was unacceptable discrimination for the claimant to refuse to participate in civil partnership ceremonies. It offended some gay employees and involved discriminating against third parties making use of the services of the council." Although the tribunal acknowledged that changes in social attitudes towards gay people could be "genuinely perplexing" for some religious groups, it ruled that it was proportionate for the council to require its registrars to conduct civil partnerships. Ladele, whose case was financed by the Christian Institute's Legal Defence Fund, said she would appeal.

  See Landmark rulings strengthen gay rights in workplace, UK

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