Christian disability assessor who was sacked by the DWP for refusing to call transgender woman ‘she’ takes fight to Court of Appeal insisting ‘compelled speech’ is being enforced on the NHS
Dr David Mackereth (pictured) lost his battle against the DWP because he refused to refer to people by their preferred pronoun instead of their biological sex
An NHS doctor barred from working as a disability assessor for refusing to call transgender people by their preferred pronouns is taking his case to the Court of Appeal, arguing that to let the matter drop would be to accept an Orwellian world of ‘compelled speech’.
Former A&E medic Dr David Mackereth has been fighting for redress since being told he could not be an assessor for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if he refused to call a trans woman ‘she’ or a trans man ‘he’.
Dr Mackereth, a committed Christian, said to do so would run counter to both his scientific and religious beliefs – that a person was born either male or female and that was an immutable biological fact. He was consequently thrown off an assessor training course in 2018.
He has twice lost legal cases in which he argued he was wrongly barred from the post and discriminated against for his beliefs.
At the original tribunal and at appeal, judges said the DWP was right to seek to protect those being assessed.
But last night Dr Mackereth vowed to press on. He said: ‘My case affects everyone, not just me and Bible-believing Christians, but anyone who is concerned by compelled speech and transgender ideology being enforced on the NHS and other public services.
‘Everyone in the NHS should be able to say publicly, without fear, that a person cannot change sex, but instead we are being forced to accept a massive change to our concept of the medical reality of sex, with no scientific basis for that change.’
In 2019 an employment tribunal dismissed his case, with tribunal Judge Perry saying the doctor’s beliefs were ‘unworthy of respect in a democratic society’ and ‘incompatible with human dignity’. Dr Mackereth appealed.
Last month an Employment Appeal Tribunal said the 2019 tribunal had ‘erred’ in some respects, but backed its decision to throw his case out.
Mrs Justice Eady said Dr Mackereth’s beliefs, that God created humans ‘male and female’, and his rejection of the view that people can switch gender depending on how they identify, did count as protected beliefs under both the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act.
Last month an Employment Appeal Tribunal said the 2019 tribunal had ‘erred’ in some respects, but backed its decision to throw his case out. Pictured: Court of Appeal
But she concluded the 2019 tribunal had been right to exclude Dr Mackereth from being a disability assessor, as this step was ‘necessary and proportionate’ to protect ‘potentially vulnerable service users’.
The judgement was last night criticised as ‘confusing and muddled’ by Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Dr Mackereth. She said: ‘The way in which the judge has driven a wedge between holding a belief and manifesting it means these basic Christian beliefs are protected on paper but not in practice.
‘The freedom to hold a belief, but not be able to express it, is no freedom at all. This ruling means that you can believe it is impossible to change sex, but if you live out that belief as a doctor your job may be at risk.’