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Doctor not discriminated against for refusal to use transgender pronouns

The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld a decision that a Christian doctor, “Dr M” was not discriminated against for refusing to address transgender people by their chosen pronoun.

The tribunal considered whether a Dr M’s belief that a person cannot change their sex/gender at will was capable of protection as a religious or philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010, and whether conduct (because the individual would not agree to use a trans person’s chosen pronouns was discriminatory on grounds of belief).

Dr M worked as a health and disabilities assessor and was required to assess claimants for disability-related benefits, including conducting face-to-face assessments and writing reports. However, he expressed that he objected to using pronouns or titles inconsistent with a person’s birth gender. This was inconsistent with the workplace policies and procedures, including the diversity and equality policy. After conducting meetings with Dr M, where he confirmed that he could not in good conscience use a trans person’s chosen pronouns, it was decided that he could not stay in his role as a health and disabilities assessor.

It was held that whilst the doctor’s beliefs were protected, the EAT agreed with the employment tribunal findings that there was no direct or indirect discrimination or harassment against the doctor.