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Recognising a Right to ‘Conscientiously Object’ for Registrars whose Religious Beliefs Are Incompatible with their Duty to Conduct Same-Sex Civil Partnerships

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AbstractThis article will argue that the term ‘conscientious objection’ can be applied beyond its associations with military service and reproductive healthcare, to explain the situation of a registrar of marriages, who, in carrying out his or her employment, has an objection based on religious beliefs to a specific aspect of his or her job requirements—namely the conduct of civil partnerships. It is argued that this objection is worthy of recognition and potential accommodation because of the weight of the burden which conscience imposes on the registrar, a burden that outweighs the case against recognition. The article then turns to examine critically the options for accommodating such a conscientious objection within United Kingdom law to the extent of considering three broad options, each with attendant advantages and disadvantages. Finally the article comes to the conclusion that re-configuring discrimination law might be the most pragmatic solution.

Affiliations: 1: University of Wolverhampton Business School Wolverhampton UK, URL:


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