A marriage registrar in Islington, north London was harassed when she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies, a tribunal ruled yesterday. Lillian Ladele, described as a 'practicing Christian', had tried to avoid presiding over same-sex ceremonies by swapping shifts with colleagues when they were due to take place. But in December 2007 marriages and civil partnerships came under direct control of local authorities and Ms Ladele was told she had to conduct all ceremonies or lose her job. She said her life was made a misery; she was picked on, shunned and accused of being homophobic for refusing to carry out civil partnerships. The tribunal ruled that Ms Ladele was harassed and discriminated against on grounds of religious beliefs. On hearing the verdict, Ladele said: "I am delighted at this decision. It is a victory for religious liberty, not just for myself but for others in a similar position to mine. Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs." Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "Lillian Ladele claims she has won a victory for religious liberty. No, she has not. She has won a victory for the right to discriminate." "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 is considering an appeal against the ruling.
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