Belief that sex is immutable can be a protected belief

The view that biological sex is immutable and that a man cannot become a woman is, of course, controversial today. But in a very welcome decision, the UK Employment Appeal Tribunal in Forstater v CGD Europe [2021] UKEAT 0105_20_1006 (10 June 2021) has now overturned a previous single judge decision, and ruled that such a belief is “worthy of protection” as a “philosophical belief” under UK discrimination law. The decision, while not based on religious belief, will have important implications for protection of religious freedom in the UK, and hopefully in other parts of the world as well.

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Can employees be ordered to support controversial views in email signatures?

This question has been raised by a report that a Victorian council has required its employees to add a graphic to their email addresses featuring a “rainbow flag”. One employee is reported as saying:

the rainbow flag can look like moral support for identity politics or sexualities prohibited by many religions in this multicultural area

This is an important issue which will present challenges to employees of organisations which are determined to make political statements on various causes. To what extent can an employee in such an organisation decline to provide their own support for the stance taken by their employer, where the “core business” of the organisation is not involved? In this post I want to consider religious freedom protections that might apply in the reported circumstances.

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