A Christian doctor will challenge a legal judgment which ruled that Christian Biblical beliefs on gender are not “worthy of respect in a democratic society” and are “incompatible with human dignity.”
In 2018, Dr David Mackereth was sacked as a medical assessor for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after refusing to identify hypothetical clients by their chosen gender instead of their biological sex. He was asked in a conversation by his line manager: “If you have a man six foot tall with a beard who says he wants to be addressed as ‘she’ and ‘Mrs’, would you do that?”
Dr Mackereth, who now works as an NHS emergency doctor, said that in good conscience he could not do this. His contract was subsequently terminated over his refusal.
In July 2019, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, he took his case to an Employment Tribunal in Birmingham claiming harassment and discrimination based on his Christian beliefs. But his beliefs were ruled not to be protected by the Equality Act 2010 for being “incompatible with human dignity.”
Dr Mackereth, 58, an A&E doctor with 28 years’ experience, will challenge the ruling at the Employment Appeal Tribunal on March 28 and 29.
Dr Mackereth’s lawyers argued in court that the DWP policy of compelling staff to use ‘transgender pronouns’ was a breach of the Equality Act and that the DWP had breached Dr Mackereth’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
His legal team argued that his “conscientious objection to transgenderism” is based on his belief “that it would be irresponsible and dishonest for a health professional to accommodate and/or encourage a patient’s impersonation of the opposite sex.”
Furthermore, they argued that the DWP discriminated against Dr Mackereth because of his Christian beliefs, including: “His belief in the truth of the Bible, and in particular, the truth of Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
However, in October 2019, Employment Judge Perry handed down a ruling which said that Dr Mackereth’s belief in Genesis 1:27 was not a belief protected by the Equality Act 2010 and was ‘mere opinion.’
In his ruling, Employment Judge Perry effectively put ‘transgender rights’ ahead of freedom of conscience, and as a consequence authorised employers to compel Christians to use pronouns preferred by customers who believe in gender-fluidity.
It is believed to be the first time in the history of English law that a judge has ruled that free citizens must engage in compelled speech.
The judge ruled that: “belief in Genesis 1:27, 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, specifically here, transgender individuals.” He continued that “in so far as those beliefs form part of his wider faith, his wider faith also does not satisfy Grainger [the requirement of being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others].”
By describing the belief as “incompatible with human dignity” he placed the belief in Genesis 1:27 on a par with such beliefs as neo-Nazi views. This means that Christians who hold this Biblical view could be discriminated against, as their view is not protected by the Equality Act. The ruling stemmed from a legal precedent set in the case of Grainger PLC v Nicholson (2010) which outlined five criteria that would qualify a ‘philosophical belief’ to be protected under the Equality Act.
Judge Perry ruled that Dr Mackereth’s Biblical beliefs had not met these criteria and were therefore not worthy of protection.
However, Dr Mackereth will now appeal this ruling at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which will follow Maya Forstater’s landmark win in June 2021 at the same legal stage.
Finding in favour of Ms Forstater, Mr Justice Choudhury ruled that the original tribunal had “erred in law” when it judged her belief that sex is assigned at birth as “incompatible with human dignity.” In a two-day hearing, lawyers will now therefore argue that the Forstater ruling has resolved the “central issue of law” raised in Dr Mackereth’s case. Lawyers will say that the “conclusion that Christian religion itself was not a protected characteristic simply cannot be right.”
In stories that would appear to support Dr Mackereth’s position, Liz Truss, the women and equalities minister, has said that transgender people should not have the right to self-identify as a different gender without medical checks. A whistle blower has also exposed the influence of Stonewall at the heart of the NHS on these issues. Dr Sinead Helyar raised serious safeguarding concerns when she revealed in one NHS Trust that patients who ask for single-sex spaces in hospital were labelled as ‘transphobes’, ‘offenders’ and ‘perpetrators’. Staff raising concerns about patients born male on female wards were threatened with disciplinary action, she revealed.
‘Case affects everyone’
Ahead of the hearing, Dr Mackereth, said: “My case affects everyone, not just me and Bible-believing Christians, but anyone who is concerned by compelled speech and transgender ideology being enforced on the NHS and other public services.
“The judgment from two years ago said to Christians ‘you have to believe in transgender ideology.’ That is totalitarianism. It made out Christianity to be nothing, the Bible to be nothing. That cannot be allowed to stand.
“It is a difficult issue for everyone in the NHS. There has been an explosion of patients identifying as transgender. The ideology to affirm them is enforced in a complex, coercive, and threatening way.
“Everyone in the NHS should be able to say publicly without fear that a person cannot change sex, but instead we are being forced to accept a massive change to our concept of the medical reality of sex, with no scientific basis for that change.
“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.
“As Christians we are not trying to be unkind to people in any way. As Christians we are called to love all people with Christian love. But we cannot love people truly when we live and disseminate a lie.
2If we are to tell patients that they need to ‘follow the science’, then we must not tell them that they can change sex.”
Ruling cannot stand
Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This was an astonishing judgment and one that if upheld will have seismic consequences not just for the NHS and for Christians, but anyone in the workplace who is prepared to believe and say that we are created male and female.
“The teaching of Genesis 1:27 is repeated throughout the Bible, including by Jesus Christ himself. It is fundamental to establishing the dignity of every human person but is, in a bizarre ironic twist, being branded as incompatible with that dignity.
“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 was and still is shocking that a judge should put the belief in the Bible in the same category.
“This ruling cannot stand. We are determined to fight as far as possible for justice and for it to be overturned.”