Lewisham MP resigns shadow post after saying registrars can refuse gay marriage

Lewisham East MP Janet Daby . Pic: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Lewisham MP Janet Daby has resigned as Labour’s shadow minister for faith and apologised for making “misjudged” comments relating to gay marriage.

Daby said last week that registrars who have a religious objection to same-sex marriages should not lose their jobs if they refuse to endorse the partnership, in an interview with Christopher Lamb for the Religion Media Centre.

Daby said that there needed to be “something in place that respects people’s conscience and views of faith” if they refused to certify same-sex unions.

“It is an issue of conscience,” she said, and likened the scenario to a doctor who might refuse to conduct an abortion due to personal beliefs.

The Lewisham East MP said she “sincerely” apologised for the “misjudged” remarks and would stand down from her frontbench role, to which she was appointed by Keir Starmer.

In a statement on Twitter, Daby said she was a firm supporter of same-sex marriages: “On Saturday Labour celebrated 15 years of civil partnerships, and all the progress we’ve made since. I sincerely apologise for my misjudged comments on Friday, and have decided to resign as shadow faith minister.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Janet Daby has today stood down from her role as a shadow minister. We will appoint a replacement in due course.”

Declining to perform same-sex weddings as a registrar is unlawful discrimination, under guidance published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the same-sex marriage act in 2013.

The act “does not allow [registrars] to refuse to marry same sex couples, even if they have a religious or philosophical objection to doing so.”

Janet Daby was first elected as a Lewisham councillor in 2010, and served as deputy mayor of Lewisham before becoming an MP for Lewisham East in 2018. She was re-elected in the 2019 general election.

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