Mary Douglas

Mary faced discipline in her role as a councillor after she refused to back a grant for a Pride event in the city.

Mary Douglas had served as a Conservative councillor in Salisbury for nearly 15 years before being removed from her portfolio role for skills and social mobility in November 2019 as a result of the stance she took against the use of public money to fund a Pride event.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Mary challenged the council’s decision to bring code of conduct proceedings against her on the allegation that she acted in a manner which ‘contravened the public sector equality duty’. Following the hearing, the council concluded that Mary did have the right under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights to express her opposition.

Mary commented: “I am relieved and thankful for this outcome. If the council had found against me, it would have set a precedent that I and other public officials are not allowed to disagree with groups of people, events or political messages with which we disagree. Such a verdict would effectively end conversation, debate and the ability to express a belief and opinion.

“To disagree is not to disrespect.  In fact, to take the trouble to express disagreement with someone is a mark of respect. Across UK society, we must be able to disagree with each other while also holding each other in the highest esteem. To be able to say what we think and believe is vital for democracy, community cohesion and good decision making.”

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