Was it religious discrimination to remove a magistrate who declined to order a same-sex adoption due to his Christian beliefs?
held the Court of Appeal in Page v Lord Chancellor.
The case concerned a lay magistrate in Kent who is also a Christian and has a strong belief that it is in the best interests of every child to be brought up by a mother and a father. Mr Page had opposed an adoption application by a same sex couple in 2014 because of his private view. As a result of his actions, he received an internal reprimand although he saw this as religious discrimination. He then participated in media interviews around the matter which led to his removal from as a magistrate in March 2016.
The Court of Appeal found that the decision to remove Mr Page from the bench was not discriminatory. Mr Page was not removed because of his religious beliefs or because he had complained of religious discrimination. The decision had instead been taken because he made it clear that he was not prepared to carry out his judicial responsibilities in a non-biased manner and in accordance with the law and had done so publicly.
This is one of a relatively small number of cases on religion and belief discrimination to reach the higher courts. It shows that whilst the law will protect the private beliefs of individuals this does not usually extend to situations in which individuals act upon these beliefs in a way which contradicts or undermines the basic duties of the job which they are contracted to do.
This blog by Mark Alaszewski, Solicitor at didlaw first appeared on Daniel Barnett’s Employment Law Bulletin https://www.danielbarnett.co.uk/site/blog/employment-blog/