Originally published in The Telegraph
A Christian doctor lost his job in a government department after he refused to refer to “a six-foot-tall bearded man” as ‘madam’, a tribunal heard.
Dr David Mackereth, 56, claims he was sacked as a disability benefits assessor by the Department of Work and Pensions over his religious beliefs.
The father-of-four alleges he was asked in a conversation with a line manager: “If you have a man six foot tall with a beard who says he wants to be addressed as ‘she’ and ‘Mrs’, would you do that?”
Mackereth, an evangelist who now works as an emergency doctor in Shropshire, claims his contract was then terminated over his refusal to use transgendered pronouns.
He argues that he was dismissed “not because of any realistic concerns over the rights and sensitivities of transgender individuals, but because of my refusal to make an abstract ideological pledge”.
The doctor is now suing the government at an employment tribunal for discrimination on the grounds of his religious belief.
A hearing in Birmingham was told how Mackereth believes transgenderism is a “delusional belief” and an ideology “which I disbelieve and detest”.
In a statement admitted into evidence, he told the court: “If you believe in gender fluidity, gender is no more than one’s own fantasy about oneself.”
The trained theologian and “unashamed” Christian, who has 30 years’ medical experience, secured a job as a health and disability assessor at Birmingham’s Fiveways assessment centre in May 2018.
He told the tribunal he was suspended the following month after being “interrogated” by his boss, James Owen, for refusing to “call any six-foot-tall bearded man ‘madam’ on his whim”. The medic claims he was told he was “overwhelmingly likely” to lose his job unless he agreed.
Mackereth left his role on June 25 2018, after an email exchange with Owen in which he was instructed to follow the “process as discussed in your training”.
The email read: “If however you do not want to do this, we will respect your decision and your right to leave your contract.” Mackereth replied: “I am a Christian and in good conscience cannot do what the DWP is requiring of me.”
He insists he did not resign his position and is the victim of direct discrimination and harassment.
Mackereth told the hearing: “The very fact a doctor can be pulled off the shop floor for an urgent interrogation about his beliefs on gender fluidity is both absurd and very sinister, even more so if it results in a dismissal.
“If something like that happened in a church setting — people being pulled out of a pew, questioned, and then excommunicated — that would be seen as an outrageous example of religious intolerance and bigotry.”
The DWP argues that Mackereth’s views are in breach of the 2010 Equality Act. APM, the recruitment company who hired the medic, is also being sued for religious discrimination.
The company claims that the doctor’s beliefs “are not compatible with human dignity”.
In a statement put before the court, Mackereth said: “I appreciate that in the present political climate, some people, including some of those who believe they are transgender, may find my beliefs to be offensive.
“However, in a free society, this is not a good enough reason to censor my beliefs and coerce me to act contrary to my conscience.
“Moreover, as a doctor, my responsibility is always to act in good conscience in the best interest of the patients — not to adopt various fancies, prejudices, or delusions, to avoid offence at all cost.”
Mackereth added that his inherent belief is that transgenderism is a “rebellion against God, which is both pointless and sinful”.
He said: “I am, of course, aware that there are men or women who believe they have been trapped in a wrong body, and I do not question the sincerity of their convictions.
“A small number of such people have always existed. Up until recently, such a belief was considered by medics to be delusional and a symptom of a medical disorder.
“It is only recently that transgenderism has been recognised as normal and such delusional beliefs accepted at face value. What is responsible for that change is political pressure, not scientific evidence.”
The legal case, which is listed until next week, is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
Chief executive Andrea Williams described Mackereth as “a Christian hero who chose to sacrifice his distinguished professional career rather than compromise on the Bible and his conscience”.
The hearing continues.