UK court rules not using trans pronouns 'incompatible with human dignity'; Christian doctor loses

A union flag is seen near the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain April 18, 2017. | REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A U.K. tribunal has ruled that not believing in transgenderism is "incompatible with human dignity" in a case where a Christian doctor who refused to use transgender pronouns was ousted from his job.

The Birmingham court panel held Tuesday that the faith of Dr. David Mackereth, a physician who in July was forced out of his job in the Department of Work and Pensions, irreconcilably conflicted with the rights of others — transgender-identified persons in this instance. The court found that the DWP had not breached the Equality Act of 2010, as Mackereth alleged.

Mackereth, 56, who for 26 years worked in the National Health Service, pushed back against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions at the Birmingham Employment Tribunal this summer, declining to identify clients by their self-identified sex, which may be the opposite of their actual biological sex.

"A lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others," the judgment reads.

In response to the latest decision, Mackereth said: “I am not alone in being deeply concerned by this outcome. Staff in the NHS, even those who do not share my Christian convictions, are also disturbed as they see their own freedom of thought and speech being undermined by the judges’ ruling."

“No doctor, or researcher, or philosopher, can demonstrate or prove that a person can change sex. Without intellectual and moral integrity, medicine cannot function and my 30 years as a doctor are now considered irrelevant compared to the risk that someone else might be offended."

Mackereth plans to appeal the ruling, according to the BBC.

He told the tribunal earlier this year that his then-boss James Owen had "interrogated" him for refusing to "call any six-foot-tall bearded man ‘madam’ on his whim" (in a hypothetical scenario) and that he was informed he was "overwhelmingly likely" to lose his job unless he agreed to violate his conscience.

The doctor ultimately left his role at the DWP following an email exchange with Owen wherein he was told he must adhere to the "process as discussed in your training" to use the transgendered language with which he disagreed. Mackereth maintained that his firing was not because of any legitimate concern about the rights of people who self-identify as transgender but because he would not submit to an "abstract ideological pledge.”

The email thread read: “If however, you do not want to do this, we will respect your decision and your right to leave your contract.” Mackereth replied: “I am a Christian and in good conscience cannot do what the DWP is requiring of me.”

Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said Tuesday that if the decision is upheld it will have "seismic" ramifications for anyone in the workplace who dares to think and express that human beings are made male and female and that the case was one of the most concerning she had ever seen.

"It is deeply disturbing that this is the first time in the history of English law that a judge has ruled that free citizens must engage in compelled speech," she said.

“No protection is given to beliefs ‘incompatible with human dignity’ and ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society.’ In the past this definition has only applied to the most extreme beliefs, such as those of Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis, and similar. It is quite shocking for the judge to put the belief in the Bible in the same category now."

A spokesperson for the DWP, meanwhile, applauded the judge's decision.

"We acted to protect claimants from behavior that would have failed to treat them with dignity, so we welcome this ruling. We expect all assessors to approach their work sensitively," she said.

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