A British magistrate judge has lost his religious discrimination lawsuit after being fired for suggesting that children thrive when they have both a mother and father.
In 2015, magistrate Richard Page was removed from his post and later ordered to step down from his position as a Non-Executive Director in an NHS Trust — part of Britain’s National Health Service.
Lawyers representing Page argued that he was being discriminated against for simply “judging what’s best for the child” in the case. Page stood by his position that a child entering care does better with both a mother and father figure.
However, an employment tribunal ruled that Page had “chosen to advertise the bias that he would apply in the exercise of his judicial functions” and had expressed his religious beliefs in a manner not in keeping with his judicial role, according to the Christian Institute.
Mr Justice Choudhury also criticized Page for speaking to the media about his case without informing the Trust about his intentions to do so, which he argued went against formal employment policy.
Page said he was “deeply disappointed” that the court ruled that saying that a child will do better with a mother and a father “is proper grounds for dismissal as a magistrate and as a director of an NHS trust.”
“I’m also disappointed that Mr Justice Choudhury believes this viewpoint can be separated from my Christian faith,” he added. “This shows that we are now living in a deeply intolerant society which cannot stand any dissent from politically correct views.”
Christian Concern, an advocacy group supporting Mr. Page, said that the ruling “could effectively bar Christians from holding positions in public office if they express a Christian view of marriage and family.”
“The battle is not over for Richard,” Christian Concern added with lead counsel Andrew Williams saying her client “remains as faithful as ever to his beliefs and will bring his cases to the Court of Appeal.”
Page had been a magistrate for 15 years after a successful career in finance, which left him well-qualified to take up the position in the NHS. During his years as a magistrate, he did not receive one complaint regarding his judgements or conduct.
Over the years, Page and his wife adopted five foster children. “Richard, for all intent and purpose, has been a pillar of society,” the group said, noting that his background and stellar career make it even more baffling that he was removed from the bench.
What is the background?
In 2014, during a closed-door consultation with two colleagues, Page expressed his personal view that, whenever possible, children do the best when placed with both a mother and father. Despite having an impeccable 15-year record as a magistrate, Page was reported to the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice and subsequently disciplined. He was told that he was being “discriminatory against same-sex couples,” and was barred from sitting on the magistrates’ bench until he completed additional “equality training.”
Richard defended his actions in TV interview: “My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adoptive parents,” he said, according to Premier UK.
In addition, the disciplinary panel received just one complaint against Page, along with over 6,000 emails of support. But none of that mattered in the end. He was removed from the magistracy in 2016 — and they didn’t stop there. Because of his admitted position on matters of family, he was also removed from his financial directorship with the NHS as it was “not in the interests of the health service,” according to those in charge of his disciplinary.