A Christian relationship counsellor who refused to work with gay couples has lost his appeal for unfair dismissal.

Gary McFarlane, from Bristol, was sacked by Relate last year after saying he would not “encourage sin” in gay and lesbian couples.

He said that he had “overcome” his prejudices against same-sex couples since he began working as a Relate counsellor in 2003, but when beginning training to be a psychosexual therapist, he said his Christian beliefs meant he could not help gay and lesbian couples with intimacy issues.

McFarlane argued that the publicly-funded national counselling service failed to accommodate his faith or allow him to try to overcome his reservations.

He took the organisation to an employment tribunal last year. Relate admitted wrongful dismissal, saying that he should have been given a notice period.

But the tribunal rejected his claims of unfair dismissal and religious discrimination.

McFarlane appealed but the latest tribunal rejected the claim for unfair dismissal.