Marriage Registrar Dismissed for Refusing to Perform Same-sex Ceremony But Subsequently Reinstated

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: September 1, 2014

A Christian registrar was dismissed for indicating she would not be willing to perform same-sex marriages. Finally, she was reinstated after a successful appeal in which it was ruled that her employer had failed to take a “balanced view” of her religious beliefs.

Margaret Jones, a Senior Deputy Registrar at a register office in Bedford in the UK was asked by her employer in March 2014 either to perform same-sex “marriages” or resign. On the basis of her refusal to perform the same-sex “marriages” she was dismissed. However, at that time her shifts did not involve any same-sex “marriages”, she further claimed she was willing to handle the paperwork of the marriage ceremony, but not to conduct the actual wedding, which means she was dismissed on the grounds of her religion beliefs.
Ms. Jones appealed against her dismissal and in August 2014 the appeal was unanimously upheld by a panel of Central Bedfordshire Council Members. The council said that further considerations should have been given during the disciplinatory hearing with Mrs Jones to accomodate her “deeply held religious beliefs“.
Although the decision does not create a legal precedent, it is likely to give employees greater rights to express religious beliefs in the workplace because it was based on official guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).