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A Christian doctor refused to use transgender service users’ preferred pronouns – the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that his dismissal was not discriminatory. 


The doctor worked as a health and disability assessor. He refused to use the preferred pronouns of transgender service users based on his Christian faith and belief that people are born male and female and cannot change their sex or gender. This belief conflicted with his employer’s policy to refer to transgender service users ‘in their presented gender at all times’.

The EAT held that such beliefs could be protected under the Equality Act 2010. They also held, however, that due to the way the doctor had expressed his beliefs and taking into consideration the employer’s policy, the employer had not discriminated against the doctor by protecting potentially vulnerable service users in the way they had.

Practical takeaways

Balancing act – as we’ve seen in another recent decision, freedom of expression must be balanced with respect for others. Respectful communication and behaving with dignity can be reminded through up-to-date training and policies. Get in touch for access to our gender identity policy.

Focus on facts – this decision (and similar) are highly fact sensitive, so approach cautiously. The impact of the doctor’s beliefs on service users was key, as was his lack of any attempt to seek adjustments that would cater for his beliefs.

The last word – the doctor has expressed his intention to take his case to the Court of Appeal meaning this may not be the last word we hear on this. We’ll update you when we know more.

Our Intelligent Employment platform includes a gender identity policy to support you to champion a workplace environment where everyone feels included with the freedom to express themselves – find out more about accessing Intelligent Employment.

Gender Identity | 21 July – sign up for our latest webinar 

In celebration of Pride, we’ve joined forces with GIRES (the Gender Identity Research & Education Society) to bring you practical, real-world guidance on gender identity (click here for all the detail). Join our webinar on 21 July 2022 @ 10 am and register your place today!

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (19 July 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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