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An employment tribunal has found that a doctor’s refusal (due to his Christian faith) to use clients’ preferred gender pronouns is not a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010. Therefore his dismissal did not amount to discrimination. The decision is being appealed.


A doctor was dismissed because he refused to identify clients by their preferred gender pronouns, instead insisting on using pronouns related to the sex clients were assigned at birth. He argued that he’d been discriminated against because his views were based on his Christian faith. The tribunal held that his view was not protected by the Equality Act 2010 (EQA) as it was “mere opinion” (as opposed to a philosophical belief). As a result the dismissal from his employment was not discriminatory.


The appeal is being heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on 28 and 29 March so we’ll update you with the practical impact as soon as we know the outcome. The tribunal’s decision in this case does appear to conflict with an EAT decision last year where a belief in there only being two sexes in human beings was held to be a genuine philosophical belief and protected from discrimination under the EQA.

What next?

This case highlights the challenges in balancing the rights and views of different employees. Irrespective of the appeal outcome, ensuring you have a robust dignity at work and equal opportunities policy in place is a great starting point. Lead from the top, train regularly, and reinforce what’s acceptable, encouraged, and where to raise concerns.

We can help with the right policies and training – get in touch.


This update is accurate on the date it was published (03 March 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

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