Friday, July 11, 2008

The right to discriminate...?

And so it came to pass that on the seventh day identity politics was shown to be the most absurdly contradictory and inherent upholder of all that it seeked to destroy. If you're wondering what I'm talking about it's the news that an orthodox christian registrar in Islingtom has has had her claim of discrimination on religious grounds upheld by a tribunal after the council said she could not refuse to carry out same-sex civil partnership because she considered them sinful.

The gay rights movement is inevitably outraged by this. Outrages Peter Tatchell that it was not a victory for religious liberty but a 'victory for the right to discriminate'. Meanwhile Stonewall's head says that because the women is public servant she can't choose what public services she will do. Thus we now have two distinct identity groups claiming discrimination and each wanting to discriminate. Whoever had won the other side would be claiming the right to discriminate had been upheld for the winner.

What makes no sense is how nobody seems to be able to see this absurdity or dares to question it. What has happened to this country?

17 comments:

silas said...

My question was, why, if she's a full-on orthodox Christian is she a registrar? Surely she should be against people getting divorced and remarried, not just same sex partnerships.

And what has happened to this country so far is, I fear, just a start.

Stu said...

Stonewall is being stupid. If she cared so much she could, as silas suggests, surely find gainful employment within her local parish, or at least somewhere she doesn't have to contravene the law and discriminate against other people.

Th Buddhists have the right approach here: a buddhist should not work in a position which contravenes their beliefs, so you won't find Buddhists working with meat or making weapons. That's called conflict avoidance.

Blue Eyes said...

I think most people understand the absurdity, but don't know how to best express that when no political party or movement stands against it.

Anonymous said...

People did see the absurdity, and did question it. The solution proposed was the usual one this government puts forward - discretion in the public sector workers (just like the absurdly poorly drafted Sexual Offences Act - which technically criminalises the victims of certain offences as well as the perpetrators). The idea is that a public authority will not do something that is likely to antagonise/cause conflicts.

Of course, that relies upon a modicum of intelligence and common sense being applied - it therefore usually falls apart quite quickly. The same holds true whether dealing with public sector jobsworths, HR "professionals" or middle managers in the private sector.

An obvious example of the problem of preferring people over rules (a flaw that is shared by both left (as here) and right (when complaints are made about 'nitpicking' bureaucracy leading to someone being found to have acted inappropriately)).

johnny73 said...

I believe a distinction should be made between personal and professional beliefs. In my opinion they are separate entities. She should have got the sack! On that cheerful note, morning dizzy.

The Amazing Toad said...

Once you go down the road of turning over half of society into Victims, these exquisite conflicts are bound to happen. The example you give is more a source of mirth than angst. It will have been an undoubted asset for the claiment in this case, to be black woman.

The social engineers who have been busy "correcting" our society to match their sixth-former worldview for the last 30 years, seem blind to the unintended effects that their "rights" create. One such effect is to turn the recipients of special rights an employment risk.

Which small employer (in their right mind) would take on a girl who is likely to spend months on end sat at home before and after giving birth, all the while drawing a wage for which she does zero work?

The legislation that gives mothers employment "rights" - in the overall scheme of things - favours older women. Parallels can be drawn for gays, blacks, disabled etc etc.

The public sector will increasingly be a Victims' refuge. Although, if the likes of Harriet Harman get their way, the State will be on the interview panels in the private sector too. For the Harriets, the medicine is always the same: more invasive, nannying legislation to correct society.

"Minority rights" create far more problems than they solve and I challenge anyone to sensibly argue against the striking down of nearly all minority rights legislation being a positive measure for everyone.

JuliaM said...

The point about idenity politics is well made, but isn;t this case a little bit more complicated than a straight (no pun intended) fight between two warring parties?

"....had her claim of discrimination on religious grounds upheld by a tribunal after the council said she could not refuse to carry out same-sex civil partnership..."

The point being, though, she won her claim for the harassment and discrimination the council embarked upon when she refused (on the grounds that there were others who could perform the duties for civil ceremonies).

After all, since there were other options open to the council, it didn't have to try to force her to carry them out, and gay couples didn't lose anything but the right to be registered by this particular woman.

And let's face it, why would they want to, knowing her views?

jonah said...

By all means tell new employees that if they wish to take the job then they must officiate at these events but equally someone who was employed as a marriage registrar before their introduction should be allowed the freedom of his or her religious convictions if he or she can demonstrate that they are sincerely held.

graeme said...

I wonder if she would have won if she had beed a white, middle aged male?

Cassilis said...

There's a risk of misunderstanding 'religious liberty' here. It means the freedom to practice your religion and hold whatever beliefs you want. To that extent Ms Ladele's religious liberty has never been under threat.

However - we pay her wages and she has absolutely no liberty to allow her religious beliefs to get in the way of what we pay her to do. If her job puts her in position (or is likely too - this issue has been around for 15 years) that contradicts her beliefs then she shouldn't take it. That has absolutely nothing to do with religious liberty....

Obnoxio The Clown said...

@graeme: no.

The Heresiarch said...

"What has happened to this country" is, among other things, the EU. The employment tribunals, in the area of "religous discrimination", is governed by an EU directive (2000/78/EC, since you ask) under which the burden of proof is on the defendant. So the registrar in this case didn't even have to prove that she had been discriminated against. It was for the authority to prove that she hadn't been.

The same rule led to the fining of the hairdresser who didn't offer a job to a hijab-wearer a few week ago.

Basically, all the claimant has to prove is that she's "religious" and it's almost impossible for her to lose.

Carrie Galine said...

Juliam wonders why gays would want to be married by someone who didn't want to marry them. I seem to remember a case in the past couple of years where Stonewall embarked on a similar case against the elderly owners of a south coast b&b. They must have scoured the country looking for a b&b that wasn't keen to offer hospitality to gays in order to bring the full force of the law against them.

Didactophobe said...

According to the judgement, the employer could have provided a perfectly good service without her conducting civil partnership ceremonies. It may leave open the possibility that in another case someone could be compelled to act against their beliefs if there appeared to be no alternative.

judith said...

If doctors have the right to refuse to carry out abortions because they have ethical or religious objections, then this lady had the right to refuse to carry out actions she believed to be immoral.

What was wrong with simply passing same-sex marriages on to another registrar? What has happened to Common Sense?

And I'm an atheist.

Bishop Brennan said...

More PC BS from nu-labour legislation...

I'm a Catholic, but I don't believe there's anything wrong with civil partnerships. But some other Christians feel quite strongly about this.

Now that the law has been changed, potential applicants need to think about whether they would be willing to perform such ceremonies. But if there are some employees willing to do it, then there shouldn't be any problem.

There is no way, however, that existing employees should be forced to act against their beliefs - common sense should prevail and allow arrangements to be made by staff who have no ethical objections. The problem here is that, as is typical with lefties, anyone that disagrees with them is targeted for bullying, until they 'leave or change'.

The answer: fire all Guardian readers from public sector jobs :)

Lola said...

"What's happened to this country?" Somehow we have managed to put fuckwits in charge.