Joshua Rozenberg applied his considerable intellect to a razor-sharp dissection of Lillian Ladele’s case, simplifying a complex issue for the passing reader such as myself.
However, I find it difficult to accept that a person’s bigoted attitude towards civil partnerships can be legitimately labelled as conscientious objection. Whatever the asserted basis for her beliefs (religious or political), Ms Ladele refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies because she did not accept the law allowing them between consenting adults. Thus she, a civil servant, wished to be permitted a special power to deny the lawful rights of her fellow subjects.
I hope that Ms Ladele’s case is rejected by the ECHR. In my view there is no place within our society for personal opt-outs when it comes to the civil rights of others. I do not accept as morally valid the argument that someone else could provide the service. Ms Ladele was a public servant and it was not for her to decide which members of the public were deserving of the services which the state had employed her to deliver based on her own narrow views. The ‘right’ which Ms Ladele wished to exercise was in clear conflict with the rights of those seeking civil partnerships, not least their right to be respected as equal members of our national community.
Prejudice is prejudice whether based on spiritual, humanist or political ideologies. Prejudice and its exercise is not conscientious objection.
Ian Skinner, Radford Semele, Warwickshire