A medical doctor with 26 years of experience working at the National Health Service (NHS) has been deemed “unfit to work” after insisting on identifying patients by their biological sex.
Dr. David Mackereth, 55, began training in May to become a health and disability assessor for the government but ran into trouble when his Christian and scientific convictions ran afoul of department protocols.
In his new job, Dr. Mackereth was to compile independent reports about the health of persons who were claiming disability benefits. His instructor told him that regardless of a patient or client’s biological sex, he must only refer to them by their self-identified gender.
“I said that I had a problem with this,” Mackereth said. “I believe that gender is defined by biology and genetics and that as a Christian the Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female.”
“I could have kept my mouth shut but it was the right time to raise it,” he said.
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Mackereth’s instructor passed on his comments to superiors, after which received an email from Advanced Personnel Management (APM), the agency employing him and would have hired him out, stating that the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) was adamant that any report or contact with clients should refer to people according to their chosen sex or it “could be considered harassment as defined by the 2010 Equality Act.”
The Act specifies 12 “protected characteristics,” one of which is “gender reassignment.” The Act further states that a “reference to a transsexual person is a reference to a person who has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.” There is nothing in the act, however, relating to a duty to refer to biological males as females (or vice-versa) because of a given gender self-identification.
The doctor, a father of four, reportedly responded that “in good conscience” he could not comply with those demands, and so his contract was terminated.
The senior doctor, who spent most of his career in Accident and Emergency wards, says that his right to religious liberty as well as freedom of speech has been violated.
“Firstly, we are not allowed to say what we believe. Secondly, as my case shows, we are not allowed to think what we believe. Finally, we are not allowed to defend what we believe,” he said.
Mackereth has argued that forcing people to use determined pronouns is a violation of free speech.
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“I don’t think I should be compelled to use a specific pronoun,” said Mackereth, a Reformed Baptist. “I am not setting out to upset anyone. But if upsetting someone can lead to doctors being sacked then, as a society, we have to examine where we are going.”
Mackereth claims he was defending his religious belief and that he fears other “professional people of faith” could be fired for holding or expressing similar opinions, which are “centuries old.”
“I’m not attacking the transgender movement but I am defending my right to freedom of speech, and freedom of belief,” Mackereth said.
A DWP spokeswoman appealed to the Equality Act to justify the agency’s action, asserting that the Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of a “protected characteristic.”
“Dr. Mackereth made it clear during his training that he would refuse to use pronouns which did not match his own view of a person’s biological gender,” the unnamed spokeswoman said. “We expect all assessors to handle assessments sensitively and adhere to the Equality Act 2010.”
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