Looking at the case of Lillian Ladele, sometime registrar for Islington Council in London who lost her job when she refused to take a civil partnership. Now, as I understand it, this woman did her job well but, because of her beliefs, didn't feel that she could in all good conscience conduct a civil partnership and someone decided to make a complaint about it.
First and foremost we have to ask whether or not anyone who wanted a civil partnership was inconvenienced or refused because of this woman's beliefs. The answer to this is a resounding 'No' for what occurred was that when there was a civil partnership to be conducted the woman merely exchanged that task for another.
The second question is that of asking 'Why'?
Why did someone make a complaint that lead to the eventual dismissal of Ms Ladele?
Well I can't imagine it was someone with a relationship with the woman who was aggrieved that she wouldn't take their service. It surely can't have been someone who had their heart set of having their civil partnership service conducted by a black woman (can it?) or wanted a Christian lay person to do the job!
No M'lud, what I have to say is that the complaint was actually little more that a spiteful and rather malicious act. The intention was to hit out at Ms Ladele and act against her and whilst it might look like it worked, actually she emerges from this as a 'hero of the faith' rather than bigot, homophobe or any of the other comments some (who actually own the rights to those very titles for themselves) have used!
The grown up response was that as long as there was no refusal of service then surely the right to believe and act according to them harmed no one and as long as that situation continued, there was no problem.
I cannot for the life of me believe that someone wishing to take part in any event would wish to have it done by someone who didn't want to do it. The ideal is someone who is keen to provide whatever service is required and if not keen, then at least ambivalent or neutral - I wouldn't want someone who did the thing without being fully engaged (mind you - having dealt with registrars in some places they were rarely engaged or even (apparently) interested in what was going on - it just seemed to be (what it might well be for many) - a job!
So did human rights win here?
No, I don't think so. What we had was someone using the system to exact some sort of revenge rather than stand for anyone's rights and so I think that commonsense, the right to live and act as one's beliefs demand and the law itself all lost out here.
When one person acts and another disagrees then surely each has a right to live as they might and as long as neither demands nor imposes upon the other on the grounds of primacy of rights we find a coexistence and place where respect, however uneasy, is to be found.
This is what society, rights, life choices and faith are all about - we may not agree but that doesn't mean that we have to engage in conflict.
Well, not unless one of us has a different (and wrong) agenda (and that's exactly what I think we have here)
Some might actually call it Christophobic :-)