I’ve recently been following with interest the case of Lilian Ladele, the North London registrar taking Islington Council to court over her right to opt out of registering same-sex unions on the grounds of it clashing with her religious beliefs. I’ve actually been trying to find out when we can expect a verdict on this case but my attempts have been frustratingly unsuccessful.
Anyone who knows me will have guessed that I find myself very unsympathetic to the woman’s position. In fact, the issue has put me face to face with my own brand of intolerant secularism, something I’m not sure I like about myself.
Like most other Romans I know, I’m very unappreciative of any religious interference in secular matters. Being raised with the Vatican in my backyard, I have experienced firsthand what it is like for a country’s institutions to be crippled by religious fanatics that take it upon themselves to influence state politics to fit their anachronistic religious ideologies. A little forceful, but you get the idea.
The case is about a clash of rights, apparently, and will determine whether it is acceptable to discriminate against somebody to uphold one’s religious beliefs. Well, excuse me but I don’t get it. Personally, I don’t understand what religious freedom is about. To me, faith equals ideology: you’re entitled to your own beliefs but not to impose them on someone else, and certainly not to discriminate on the basis of them. Pure and simple.
This idea that faith is somehow superior to other belief systems is, quite frankly, offensive to people like me who don’t believe in superhuman beings. I feel like I’m missing out on my opportunity to discriminate on somebody.
Ms Ladele is a civil servant. If her beliefs prevent her from carrying out her duty she should quite simply step down. Maybe she could consider a career as a doctor where she could refuse treatment to patients who have contracted diseases doing something she deems naughty.
What do we do when she decides she doesn’t want to marry divorced people? And what if she decides that getting married outside of a religious institution at all is sinful. I suppose she’ll opt out of all weddings, effectively halving her workload.
I say, Ms Ladele, please ask yourself if this is the job for you. Nobody wants a disgruntled bigot officiating at their civil partnership, anyway.