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Peter Tatchell backs Christian housing manager demoted for gay marriage remarks

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  1. Here is a link to the BBC’s reporting of Peter Tatchell’s support for the Christian Housing Manager.

  2. I respect Peter Tatchell and vallue his long committed campaigns (many of which have been successful) to expose homophobia and bigotry.

    I believe he is utterly wrong in condemning Trafford Housing Trust.

    This is not a matter about what people think or though police. This is about someone breaching their code of conduct in the workplace, the manner of that breach if largely irrelevant.

    None of us (including Peter) know the full facts eg had the employee been disciplined for prior breaches of the code of conduct and thus a stronger message had to be given to the staff member? There could be any number of confidential issues within the employer/employee relationship that make this penalty appropriate (but remain inappropriate to discuss in the media).

    1. Corrections apology:

      and value …

      think or thought police …

      that breach is largely irrelevant …

    2. Spanner1960 28 Oct 2011, 12:52am

      I totally disagree. Preventing people stating their opinions is neither necessarily hate crime, nor bringing their employers into disrepute.

      I would much rather here other people state what they think, however offensive one may find it, than be censored and prevented from free speech. The Americans see it as their 1st Amendment for very good reason. OK, some may abuse it, but better that than being arrested for speaking out against say, the church or authority.

      1. @Spanner1960

        Again, you are falling into the trap that the Christian Institute are setting – this has nothing to do with this gentlemans opinion, other than the disclosure of his opinion was what brought his employer to the attention of his breach of their code of conduct.

        His employer have not commented on his opinion or thoughts, but having explored the concerns of a colleague regarding these comments found that he had been in breach of his employers code of conduct (not by what he said, but by disclosing the employer on social networks without consent – whereby they could be linked to any opinion he had on anything).

        Its the breaching of the code of conduct that his employers are concerned about – not the thoughts .,.. although the Christian Institute would have you believe it is entirely about his thoughts … not so …

    3. “It is bizarre that the minister for equality wants to maintain the discriminatory laws that prohibit gay couples from having a religious marriage” – Peter Tatchell Pink News 19 September 2011

  3. Peter got a point on this one. But what about a religious gay couples? They should be allowed to marry in Church if they want. They can in South Africa btw. Honey moon included :)

    1. A religious gay couple cannot marry a cult building if they want.

      They need to find a cult which wil permit them to marry.

      A religious straight couple cannot marry in a church just because they want to either.

      For example try getting married in a catholic cult building if you are divorced.

      1. If there is God, IF, there is only one anyway so name of institution abusing Jesus’s name doesn’t count.

    2. Spanner1960 28 Oct 2011, 12:57am

      A church is essentially like a “club”. I see no reason why they should be expected or forced to marry gay couples. It is entirely up to them.

      The important factor is that same sex couples should be allowed to marry in the eyes of the law, and benefit from the same things, and retain the same name. I want to be able to say I am married, and let people assume what they want. At the moment if I say I am in a CP, it is patently obvious who and what I am.

      1. Entirely agree with you on that point, Spanner1960

        Although, I have noticed many people in CPs either themselves describe it as a marriage – or their friends (gay or straight) describe them as being married … it will be good to have this technically and legally so, as opposed to being perceived as so …

        I do think churches who are content to marry same sex couples should be able to (ideally as an added or bolt on to a civil ceremony), but that we should not pressurize those who feel unable to, to do so …

  4. I agree that he should not be demoted for his remarks. He is entitled to his opinions.

    Perhaps he was demoted because the stupidity he displayed in his remarks meant that his bosses felt he was unsuitable for his position.

    His incredible stupidity stems from his assertion that religious cults may be forced to perform same-sex marriages.

    That is simply untrue and anyone with any sort of intelligence would realise that.

    1. But it isnt the remarks that he is being demoted for, its the breach of his employers code of conduct …

      1. Stu: This is pathetic. He mentioned his employer by name. He did not suggest that they agreed wit his opinion or that it was the policy of the Trust. What a cack-handed, crass way of shutting someone up. This will have a chilling effect on what he can and can’t say on facebook.

        1. @IT

          This is about breach of a code of conduct. Not the content of the message.

          He knew the code of conduct (or should have done at least). His employer had circulated it amongst all staff earlier this year.

          We do not know his prior disciplinary record – he may already have been warned about similar conduct.

          So, the “this is pathetic” argument doesnt wash – if he had a crystal clean disciplinary record, it might be argued that a demotion is excessive … but even that would depend on precedent set by the employer for other breaches of the code of conduct …If however, he had been previously the recipient of a verbal or written warning, or there had been publicity about concerns regarding social networking in the housing trust or many other reasons then demotion could be seen as lenient

        2. @IT

          Furthermore, if the gentleman has been demoted for a breach of code of conduct, as his employers state … then it is pathetic for the Christian Institute to claim that his dismissal was a breach of his human rights in the guise of freedom of speech. The content of the message which lead him to breach his code of conduct is immaterial in that case. The breach is sufficient for the employee to be held to account by his employer. The Christian Institute are disingenuous by claiming it is linked to freedom of speech – and unfortunately many have been hoodwinked into sharing the view of the Christian Institute.

          1. Stu: I haven’t been hoodwinked by anyone. I expressed my opinions and reached a conclusion independently of the Christian Institute as I suspect the vast majority of people that are opposed to the Trust’s decision also did. We are quite capable of thinking for ourselves. I still say there is a more fundamental point at issue here of which the breach of the employer’s code of conduct is merely a pretext for silencing unpopular opinions. It is quite common for people to state where they work, live, education etc. on facebook. To hammer him for that because he happened to express his views is a lousy way to treat anyone and to me is clearly an attack on one of our most fundamental rights. By the way I am not partisan on this issue. I am an anti-theist, humanist and a secularist.

          2. @IT

            I did not say you had been hoodwinked, just that many have because the Christian Institute have been disingenuous in how they have been feeding the media information on this case.

            I have no doubt many will have reached their own conclusions on this case – one way or another without any obvious influence by the Christian Institute – although I would argue there may have been media influence on some who are on both sides of the debate.

            I err to the side of the housing trust, because I believe an employer must uphold their standards and codes of conduct otherwise they are weak and fail to engage a staff who behave appropriately and professionally.

            That said, as you will see throughout this thread I have repeatedly said we do not know the full story – there are facts not in the public domain (nor should they be) that may make it clearer whether I am correct in my view or you are – in this circumstance.

            To be clear, I fully support freedom of speech. I also believe contracts….

          3. … and codes of conduct should be complied with – and if one does not then there will be consequences.

            The circumstances Mr Smith was found to have breached the code of conduct were due to a colleague complaining about his opinions expressed on facebook – which led to an investigation – and as a result of this investigation the breach of code was found – the trust may well have found the content not to be something they could or wished to take action about – but nonetheless found that he had breached the code and had to act on that.

            My comparison would be someone arrested for burglary – police may search the home of the person arrested to find property from the burglary. During the search find nothing linked to the burglary but find several forged passports. They may now not charge with the burglary but will charge for the incidentally discovered forgery offences.

    2. Anyone using ignorance as you suggest should be able to spout any racist/homophobic crap then and just claim they can’t be punished for their ignorance?
      Let’s hope that doesn’t happen or retirement homes for one will get a lot more uncomfortable for gay people and anyone not white.

      1. It was his personal facebook page though. It was not on his employers’ time. He was not using their resources. And he was not attempting to deny services to any individual people.

        He made an ignorant comment. He was not attempting to deny housing to a gay couple.

        It was an over-reaction on his employer’s part.

        1. I kinda agree. Wouldnt a verbal warning and asking him to remove his employer from his profile have been enough?

          1. Had he been disciplined about breaches of the code of conduct in the past or advised about it?

            We don’t know all the facts …

            I think it was potentially a justifiable penalty …

            People seem to be concentrating on the content of his words and not the conduct issue

  5. Cambodia Guesthouse 27 Oct 2011, 2:20pm

    I honestly think that Peter has a valid point on this one… ‘What’s good for the goose’ and all that…

    I do not believe that churches should be allowed to impose their views and beliefs on the rest of us…

    I also believe that WE.. should not have the right to impose and dictate what happens in churches… we simply cannot.

    If it’s not right for them to tell US how to live, then we cannot tell them how to either!

    I object to churches getting involved in the whole gay marriage issue and I want to know why they are even being consulted? As far as I am concerned, the issue is about equality of access to CIVIL marriage… Civil marriage has nothing to do with the churches….

    1. Dr Robin Guthrie 27 Oct 2011, 2:40pm

      “If it’s not right for them to tell US how to live, then we cannot tell them how to either!”

      Actually we can and do when their faith based reasoning’s impinge on the secular arena and rightly so……

      1. Spanner1960 28 Oct 2011, 12:58am

        Church marriages do not impinge on the rest of society in any way, and there are many secular alternatives.

        1. But it’s a human rights issue. Each and every one of us has the right, no matter what to enjoy the same rights and liberties as one another.

          We pay taxes, we deserve the same rights. Simple.

          Also, the man was a fool. He is a professional, he is a representative of the organisation and he has breached his employers code of conduct – what would have happened if gay client had got wind of his views? Is it fair for them to see that?

          There is a clear distinction between expressing an opinion and breaching your employers rules.

          1. It is a human rights issue and so if churches are willing to marry non-religious two-sex couples then they should accept that they are offering a ‘service’ (no pun intended) rather than performing a ritual for their members. If it’s a service available to non-members then it needs to be available to all non-members regardless of race, orientation etc.

            On the other hand, if they were to tighten up their rules and only allow members to get married on the premises then it would come down to whether they allowed gay members or not… admittedly that causes other problems but it would remove the issue of gay marriage in religious buildings.

            Not sure that I agree with the attack on Adrian Smith though. From what he said, it wasn’t that offensive, even if a client had somehow managed to access the private page. Of course, the trust can still take issue with being identified with behaviour they don’t condone – but his wages went from £30+ to £21k… bit excessive.

    2. @Cambodia Guesthouse

      If his demotion was about his views, then I possibly would agree with you …

      As it is, the demotion is about him breaching his employer code of conduct in terms of disclosing his employer on social media without authorisation …

      It has nothing to do with his thoughts (which he is entitled to) and nothing to do with churches or anyone imposing views on others …

    3. “I also believe that WE.. should not have the right to impose and dictate what happens in churches”
      Even if these churches WANT to host marriages as some sects of Judaism do?

      If Rowan Williams doesn’t want his churches used for gay marriages then that’s fine, but some do and it’s none of his business if he’s not the figurehead of that religion.
      Noone is being forced to anything here.

      If you don’t agree with a gay marriage then don’t get one

  6. Without seeing the contract of the housing officer in question, I could not possibly comment on whether he has deliberately and with full intent broken a policy or covenant that he had otherwise agreed to abide by. My personal instinct – screw the hateful crhsitofascist scumbag, I wouldn’t raise a voice for hiim nor break a sweat as his brand of putrid dogma is the driving force for keeping LGBT around the world, as well as in the UK, without rights and securities that the bigots take to granted. Screw them and their odious tome of hatred.

    1. de Villiers 27 Oct 2011, 4:42pm

      I agree – but let’s not create martyrs and generate anti-gay antipathy and even hatred.

      1. They hate us anyway. Those who are pro us or apathetic will no longer be convinced either way. I am certain that there are people out there who will hate us and cannot be reasoned with, cannot be debated with, cannot accept us. They just hate. And all our cuddly fluffy play-along-nicely BS won’t change a thing.

  7. Peter Tatchell is becomes as unrepresentative of us as Stonewall i feel.

    If i hire someone in a care home to care for all in an equal manner and they ridicule Jewish marriage or Asian people getting married in a church or temple i would rightly discipline them.
    This is no different and Peter Tatchell is defending homophobia

    1. I fear Peter misjudges both the scenario, the facts and the mood on this issue …

    2. If I hore someone in a care home to care for all in an equal manner and they do not ridicule jewish marriage or Asian people getting married in a church or temple, while they are at work and doing their job, then I think they are performing their job as required by their contract of employment.

      If they make a bigotted comment on their personal facebook page, but were still performing their job fairly with regard to all clients then I would not feel the need to take any further action.

      Lilian Ladele refused to perform her employment duties and was rightly punished.,

      This guiy did not refuse to perform his duties.

      1. I mean ‘hire’ not ‘hore’. To hore someone at work is clearly illegal.

        1. Clearly…very funny though!

      2. Does your care home have a code of conduct which includes disclosure of information about employment of social networking internet sites?

        1. I don’t work in one, it’s an example i’m using

          1. Ok, well in the housing association (and many other organisations – particularly in the public sector, and larger private corporations) there are such codes of conduct …

            If you don’t enforce your code of conduct then what is the point of having it? It becomes a toothless piece of paper which staff would be able to feel free to ignore …

            If you do enforce it then you have to consider the prior behaviour of that staff member, precedent set in the organisation and other relevant factors before determining the appropriateness of any disciplinary action or penalty …

          2. I agree completely and homophobia needs to be stamped out like racism was
            Peter Tatchell is undermining this and actively encouraging people to treat gay people as second class no matter what their work contracts state

  8. As Stu pointed out and as the link provided by John to the Trafford Housing Trusts statement

    It was not about Adrian Smith’s stated beliefs but his breach of workplace code of conduct, for which I think they were correct to discipline Mr Smith.

  9. “At the end of 2010, we updated our Code of Conduct for Employees and provided it to all staff. This version of the Code clearly set out what use employees can make of social networking sites such as Facebook.

    Some three months after this new code was issued, Mr Smith, without our authority or knowledge and on a Facebook page that identified him as a manager at Trafford Housing Trust, made comments that were found, by a full disciplinary investigation in which he had Trade Union representation, to be in breach of the company’s code of conduct and other policies.

    Mr Smith was disciplined for his breach of company policy. The Trust made no comment about any personal beliefs that he holds.”
    (From Trafford Housing Trust’s statement.)

    1. Rubber Ducky 27 Oct 2011, 3:58pm

      key phrase in that 1 i would say is ‘code of conduct’ any breach of that will constitute as misconduct and potentialy gross misconduct dependant on the other policies breached.

    2. Good catch, Pavlos. So in answer to the whining christian – read the small print, love.

    3. Absolutely, Pavlos

      Every employee has a duty to ensure they are aware of their employers policies, practices and conduct expectations and any amendments that are made to these …

      The Housing Trust has been reasonable in ensuring that the new handbook and policies were distributed to all staff, if the employee failed to read it, failed to understand it or failed to comply with it – then he, himself, has to take responsibility for this.

    4. And yet he is still able to take his employer to court at a financial cost to them.
      It’s disgusting…they should sack him when he loses his case for this.

      1. @Tigra07

        What is even more disgusting is that it is the Christian Institute that is funding this legal action, claiming it is about freedom of speech, which it is not, it is about breaching staff code of conduct …

        It makes me laugh out loud that the Christian Institute have the gall to initiate a case regarding freedom of speech, given what a bastion of openness, transparency and honesty they are with regards freedom of speech (not!)

  10. “The Bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women. If the state wants to offer civil marriages to the same sex then that is up to the state; but the state shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience.”

    I can go along with that, as long as religious cults, especially the roman variety, desist from interfering in same-sex civil marriage in the UK and imposing its beliefs on the majority of the population who aren’t religious. They can’t have it both ways.

  11. de Villiers 27 Oct 2011, 4:44pm

    I said on a previous article about this that I thought his employer would be in some difficulty. I still think that – the demotion seems disproportionate.

    There is also the danger that it will generate anti-gay feeling and even hatred. Equal rights for us, certainly. However, this sort of punishment for a remark made on Facebook really does look a bit like some is always watching.

    1. @de Villiers

      Whether the demotion is disproportionate depends on a number of factors (of which I suspect none of us are aware) :

      Prior disciplinary record of the employee
      Precedent set by employer for breach of code of conduct
      Other internal factors in the organisation

  12. de Villiers 27 Oct 2011, 4:45pm

    I said on a previous article about this that I thought his employer would be in some difficulty. I still think that – the demotion seems disproportionate.

    There is also the danger that it will generate anti-gay feeling and even hatred. Equal rights for us, certainly. However, this sort of punishment for a remark made on Facebook really does look a bit like someone is always watching.

    1. Father Doreen 27 Oct 2011, 5:56pm

      Check your facts. And employers ARE always watching Facebook. And potential employers too.

    2. Another Hannah 30 Oct 2011, 3:05pm

      Take a look at NHS contracts – if your saw patients being murdered you wouldn’t be able to mention disgust in public – you can only report to authorities or the Police, you could be fired if you did. Why does he get special treatment inthis country?

  13. Let the courts deal with it. Best all round.

  14. DonHarrisonLD 27 Oct 2011, 5:51pm

    Here is Mathew the bible say:-
    Matthew 19:6
    6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. w What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

    Here it does not mention it has to be between a man and woman

    1. Jesus was quoting from Genesis 2 which clearly shows the oneness is between a man and a woman …

      “23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

      1. Does that mean when I take my bone out of a man I have to call it Woman?

      2. Where does that text say that is the only way of marriage?

  15. Father Doreen 27 Oct 2011, 5:53pm

    I think PT should have checked his facts before opening his mouth on this one.

    1. Peter Tatchell as brilliant as he is, is not infallable

  16. I’m going to go against the grain here, for once, and actually say that I think Peter Tatchell is right. Whilst I don’t necessarily share the housing manager’s views, I do think the decision to demote him was incredibly vindictive and spiteful. I am a gay man who supports gay marriage, yet I don’t support this sort of behaviour being carried out in my name. In fact, I feel rather ashamed for our community. Sorry but that’s how I feel about it.

    1. @Ursus

      It had nothing to do with the housing managers views, it was his breach of the code of conduct …

      So many of you have been caught up in the web of lies spun by the Christian Institute on this matter, unfortunately including Peter Tatchell …

      1. I’m with you on this one Stu.

    2. Ursus, if he was openly and proudly racist, to the point where he thought black people shouldn’t be able to get married in church, he would have been demoted. In fact he wouldn’t have got the job in the first place. And rightly so. So why do you think it is vindictive and spiteful to take power away from a gaycist manager who holds vindictive and spiteful views about people like me and you? Don’t forget there are gay Christians. And the bible says many things that he does not adhere to. For example, does he approve of slavery? The bible does.

    3. Let’s look at this in context. He voiced an opinion against gay marriages taking place in church: not gay marriage per se. At least that was what I believed was the case. Also this was on his Facebook page and was probably written in his own time, on his own computer. I also understand that he did not make insulting comments about our community, or incite hatred, but merely stated his view about gay marriage in a church setting against his own views and beliefs. Is that really a justifiable excuse for cutting back their salary by roughly one third? I don’t think it is. Sorry, but my opinion stays the same.

      1. But its not to do with his opinion, Ursus …

        Its about the finding of the breach of code of conduct when the employer was investigating whether he had said something inappropriate that would damage the housing trust following a complaint by a colleague. It is the breach that was discovered that has led to the disciplinary action. Now granted, the breach may not have been discovered if they had not had to examine the comments – but nonetheless they investigated a complaint and found a breach and made disciplinary decisions in connection to that breach, and not the content of the message.

  17. This is turing into a Which hunt and Stu is in on the band waggon big time.

    1. I think you mean Witch. And whose band wagon are you on? The Christian institutes?

      1. Spanner1960 28 Oct 2011, 1:04am

        Which hunt did you mean? ;)

      2. Im on my own bandwaggon, the one that allows people to shat what they think without the thought police getting involved, and Stu you aint welcome on my badwaggon.

        Your not standing up for anything, each and every post on here has Stu giving his opinion, with that everyone else is entitled to theres, no matter what anyone else thinks, as its their right to say these things.

        Once the Acts are modified, free speech will provail again.

        1. How does one shat what they think …?

          This is nothing to do with thought police

          Neal, wouldnt touch your bandwagon with my worst enemies little toe, unless I had to …. unclean … :-)

          The acts are open to consultation, but I strongly suspect will NOT be modified, or if they are it will be a matter for clarification rather than reduction in effectiveness

          In any case, section 4a of public order covers many issues as do computer offences, telecommunications offences, protection from harassment act etc etc

        2. @Neal

          PN has not set a limit on number of posts … you are free to contibute as much or as little as you wish …

          As it is, on long term sick from my employer (and hopefully returning to work shortly if I have recovered fully for my injury and illness) I have a great deal of time of my hands … some of which is used to read, write, cook and campaign, and some of which I have utilised on PN …

          Anyone else is entitled to do the same … I have lots of opinions … you dont agree with many of them …. thats the point of a forum

          1. I wondered how you managed to find find time to top the PN contributor’s board Stu :-)

            Hope you recover and are back to work soon and that the time away will have been well spent.

            Part of my community role is to organise volunteers – if you hail from my parts (Southend, unlikely) would love to work with you here :-)

          2. @JohnB

            Currently based in Durham, so quite a way from Southend …

            Thanks for your best wishes

          3. ahh well let it be :-)

            pity though, with all that time on your hands …

    2. Neal

      If standing up for integrity and upholding reasonableness is a witch hunt (note the correct spelling) then I for one am proud to be part of it … as it is that is not the case …

      1. Spanner1960 28 Oct 2011, 1:08am

        Please define “integrity” and “reasonableness” (is that a word?)

        What you might find acceptable others may not, and vice versa.
        You cannot just leap in as the arbiter of what is acceptable or not just based on your own personal perspective. Most Christians thing they are doing precisely that, and it is we who are unreasonable.

        1. @Spanner1960

          I am entitled to an opinion as much as anyone else, I am not holding myself up to be arbiter of anything on these forums, merely offering opinions …

          What I find unacceptable is breaching contracts (including codes of conduct) – at one level … at another level, repeated and vociferous offensive language, harassment, threats etc etc

          There are manners of exercising ones freedom of speech with responsibility

          As for defining integrity and reasonableness, I am not going to get into a debate on minutiae of definitions of words which are in common parlance and used on a day to day b basis … My point is that it is reasonable to expect an employer to enforce the code of conduct it applies to its employees. Employees should act with integrity to meet the obligations of that code of conduct and employers would lack integrity if they failed to uphold the code …

  18. Funny how when the word Christian religion comes up there are always a lot of replies so here is another,

  19. He overstepped the mark.

  20. Peter Tatchell – the voice of concilation and moderation – well I never :-)

    I think he articulates my own position pretty well although I take Stu’s point that we need the full facts to come to a fully balanced view – something I would encourage the likes of Christian Institute and Christian Concern (and the Trust) to help be made available.

    But I would be very surprised if Peter’s “excessive and disproportionate” observations regarding the Trust’s actions will be proved wrong.

    However, while this is subject still to a legal process, we will all have to be patient a little longer.

    1. @JohnB

      I think Peter Tatchell has been taken in by the web of lies spun by the Christian Institute on this one …

      1. Neither of us can speak for Peter but my take on him is that he is his own man and will not be taken in by abyone, least of all a Christian organisation. Unless you are privy to information we don’t have, I can’t see anything in the Christian Institute statements on the matter that hints at deception.

        I agree with you though that we need to know what the Trust code of conduct is and what it is that Mr Smith did that was supposed to have broke that code. In the best case, I expect “disproportionate and excessive” to be right; in the worst “sinister and cruel” would seem more likely.

        1. Maybe not lies, but it seems like misrepresentation by the CI. The statement Pavlos posted above shows that this man was not demoted for his views but for a breach of his contract. The CI seem to be implying that he’s being victimised because of his views.

          I’ve also noticed the CI misrepresenting other cases too, like the lady at BA (?) who wasn’t allowed to wear a cross. I only read the CI’s take on that at first and actually felt sorry for her until I read the full facts.

          This man’s words were far more moderate than many, and I do acknowledge that, but he’s making a mistake if he thinks the CI will help his case.

          1. @Iris

            Thats exactly my point …

            I would argue the difference between spinning a web of lies and misrepresentation is tenuous :-)

            I agree the man is making a rod for his own back by utilising the “skills and resources” of the CI in this matter

          2. Hi Iris: I think I understand your point (and Stu’s too) about CI distorting the facts. If that were true that would be wrong and actually worse because I would expect an organisation like CI to put a great store on truth because that is the Christian way.

            I have lived long enough to have come to a view that most people/organisations etc., knowingly or not, put their particular spin on what they say and invariably this concides with their ethos and world view (politicians of all flavours do it all all the time and it is to an extent true in our cases even though I believe we both try to be fair and see the other side).

            While I am inclined to agree with (your friend :-) ) Andrea Williams who writes in her blog “This case demonstrates the climate of fear that has taken hold in our country, particularly in public sector services, to the extent that simply holding and expressing Christian views about marriage in private results in severe disciplinary action” (although I accept the Trust has a different take), and that frankly bothers me greatly, I believe an even more important issue is to deal in truth.

            I don’t have the definitive answer yet in this case but I will watch with interests developments and maybe we can revisit this together at a later date when the facts of the case are made a lot clearer. But as I said in an earlier post, writing one’s personal views on Facebook seemed perfectly reasonable in this case, and being demoted etc. as a result perfectly unreasonable, so knowing the bigger picture will be helpful.

          3. @JohnB

            I do appreciate where you are coming from – and if it was about hsi thoughts then I might agree with you … but its about a breach of code of conduct – now that may be perceived by some to be minor or technical – but nonetheless it can be perceived by others as gross misconduct …

            Lets see what the outcome is, I suspect the trust will be seen to have acted appropriately and proportionately

      2. I agree Peter is more likely to be his own man and unlikely to be pressurized by any individual or organisation – whether Christian or not … but that was not what I was suggesting …

        It may be helpful (for those that need to know) to see the trusts code of conduct, but I am not sure that the entire public arena need to know chapter and verse of this gentlemans conduct … I think the trust are demonstrating propriety in refusing to comment (given their duty to this gentlemans confidentiality). I am sure it will come clear in good time. I suspect worst case scenario is “disproportionate and excessive” but I expect the two main findings will be “correct and justified” in terms of the housing trusts actions and “manipulative and exploitative” of the Christian Institute.

        1. let’s wait and see what comes out … I only hope that good fair minded people will examine and pronounce on the merits or otherwise of Adrian Smith’s case.

    2. @Stu&Iris

      I realise you both have negative views regarding organisations like Christian Institute and Christian Concern.

      Putting aside the fact they have a worldview that is more akin to my own and more at odds with yours, I wonder if in a single posting you can articulate what is about them you find so offensive, particularly giving examples where they have been disingenuous, duplicitous (or whatever the appropriate negative adjective is).

      I ask this because I am prepared to challenge them where I think they are going wrong. I have an interest of course – I don’t think the “cause” is helped if they deal in lies or have attitudes that are not what one should expect from Christians. They also rely on Christians for support and I expect / hope will listen.

      I ask you because while I know you have strong opinions, some of which are opposed to my own strong opinions, I do see you as voices of reason with the LBGT community and respect you as a result.

      1. For those that have eyes, let them see.

        Of course you don’t respect those contributors, or any other gay people, which is why you are a troll haunting a gay website.

        1. Once upon a time there were three billy goats called Gruff. Every spring they left their barn and travelled to the mountains where there was lots of fresh, tasty green grass for them to eat.

          To reach the mountains, the three billy goats Gruff had to cross a river.
          But there was only one wooden bridge across it and under the bridge there lived a terrible, grumpy troll. He never let anyone cross his bridge without his say-so and he never agreed to let anyone cross, he always gobbled them up for his breakfast.

          Not long after, the third billy goat Gruff came across the bridge. Tromp-tromp, tromp-tromp went his hooves as he walked across the bridge. “Who’s that stomping over my bridge?” bellowed the troll. “Billy goat Gruff,” the biggest goat replied. “I’m going to the mountain to eat the tasty green grass.” “At last!” grinned the troll, “Now I’m going to gobble you up for my breakfast.”

          “Oh no, you won’t!” the biggest goat shouted and he lowered his horns and charged at the troll. Smack! He butted him right over the bridge.

          So, the third billy goat Gruff joined his two brothers on the mountain where they ate fresh, tasty green grass all summer long. And the silly old troll never bothered them again. THE END
          From the CBBC website

          Now there you have a real Troll :-)

      2. @JohnB

        I shall get back to you on this with specific examples, as I would like to give you chapter and verse (pun intended) on a few examples which I think I still have access to …

        For me the biggest problem (other than mindset being at odds with my own) with the Christian Institute is when they are disingenuous. For example, they are pursuing the housing managers case on grounds of freedom of speech, they are pursuing a campaign to alter aspects of public order legislation on grounds of freedom of speech – yet do not permit freedom of speech on their own facebook page and block those who question commentary on there or subject them to vitriolic abuse.

        I shall dig out some examples …

        1. I will believe that they are defending religious liberty when they stand up for churches and vicars that DO want to celebrate marriages of gay people as strongly as those that don’t. They only seem to support a fundamentalist viewpoint.

          1. Do you not think the converse might be true? i.e. I will believe various LBGT organisations are defending full equality when they support the right of religious folk who DO NOT want to celebrate gay marriage?

        2. Thanks Stu. That will be great. I think we have to accept that we do see things differently and that may not change. However, if there is a lack of trust, respect, credibility etc. and a track record of disingenuousness then it will be difficult to have meaningful dialogue (that goes all ways of course).

          My mantra is I would like Christian Institute to get their facts right, get the right facts and present them in a fair and balanced way in the market place of ideas. Some of the points you and other PN readers have are certainly valid and I would like to have the opportunity to make that representation, robustly and discretely.

          1. @JohnB

            I cant get access to the website I was thinking of selecting some quotes from for you …

            I think a friend who has screen shots and will ask him if they can be forwarded and post a comment about them in the next day or two

          2. @JohnB

            Friend has sent me an email saying he is away on business till Fri and will respond with the info he has when he is back … let you know then …

      3. Stu, Iris

        I sent the following email today to Christian Institute – I will try to keep you posted if any developments although I try to respect confidentiality with anyone I engage with if that is needed.

        “I have recently been in dialogue with readers of Pink News about this case e.g. see for a current exchange (my tag is JohnB).

        You will note my position is in the main similar to your own and I have been helped by some of your reporting in making my case.

        I am sad though that in the discussion the Christian Institute is sometimes criticised, not just for taking the stand you do (which would be quite understanable given widely differing worldviews) but because you have lied (which is not acceptable as I am sure you will agree).

        All your reporting seems to be based around the notion that Mr Smith was demoted because of his views on gay marriage, whereas according to the Trafford Trust this was because he broke their Code of Conduct and was therefore subject to disciplinary action rather than his views on gay marriage. Can you tell me why you have not addressed this matter in your reporting?

        I’m sure you will agree that as Christians we are going to be criticised or worse but always we must be utterly scrupulous when it comes to handling truth. The fact your good name is being brought into question I find worrying.

        Can you also advise why you do not invite people with contrary opinions to contribute to these discussions. Some have commented on the hypocrisy of claiming Christians can’t exercise freedom of speech when you don’t subject yourself to public scrutiny.

        I am a leader of a church with traditional evangelical beliefs and active in the wider community. I am keen to address and debate all the issues in the public square and need all the help I can get. I hope you will understand the concerns expressed above are sincere.”

        1. @JohnB

          I look forward to hearing any response that you are able to share with us.

          It didnt surprise me to see the integrity of how you composed your email. Despite our clear differences of views it is clear that you seek to understand and be understood.

          I think there would be more respect for Christian leaders if there were more who demonstrated integrity in the way you seek to.

          There will always be things regardless of faith, orientation, politics or other divisive factor that leads to tension and disagreement. It is disappointing when this leads to aggression, offensive behaviour or worse. It undermines the argument or integrity of either side of a debate if they resort to such behaviour, something I feel we are both keen to avoid.

          I am sure you do not want PN readers to tolerate your beliefs, you want us to accept that you have those beliefs etc etc. In a similar way, gay people do not want to be tolerated, they want to be accepted for who they are.

          I am sure I …

        2. … will be shot down in flames by some PN readers for trying to understand where you are coming from – but I feel that it is an adult approach to try and debate sensibly and sensitively.

          I think your views on same sex marriage are wrong, and you think the same of mine (I suspect).
          I think your views on the public order act are wrong, and I am sure you feel mine are biased (I guess).

          Your worldview is almost completely contrary to my own – although I am sure there are many (non theological) issues we would agree on.

          I thank you for you willingness to try and understand, whilst maintaining your own honesty about how you see things.

          Let us know the response, if you can.

    3. JohnB wrote
      “I realise you both have negative views regarding organisations like Christian Institute and Christian Concern.
      Putting aside the fact they have a worldview that is more akin to my own and more at odds with yours, I wonder if in a single posting you can articulate what is about them you find so offensive,”

      . . . . .

      @JohnB – It is well known that the Christian Institute is an extremist organisation which peddles half baked truth as facts. The issue of a cure for homosexuality through psychotherapy, is a good example of the CI’s promotion of misinformation.

      . . . . .

      * Christian Institute – Fantasy
      “It is often said that homosexuals need civil rights because they are ‘born gay and can’t change’. But this claim simply cannot be backed up by the evidence – homosexuality is not a fixed trait like race or sex. For example, a 2003 study by a leading psychiatrist who supports gay rights found that homosexuals could become ‘predominantly’ heterosexual through psychotherapy. 84% of the homosexuals and lesbians in the study became heterosexual by the end of the study.1 No amount of psychotherapy can ever change a person’s race.”
      Source – Publication Sexual Orientation Regulations Briefing –

      . . . . .

      * Royal College of Psychiatrists – Facts
      The Royal College of Psychiatrists says all homosexuals have “a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation”.

      1. JohnK: Thanks for this contribution.

        While I am more inclined to the CI rather than RCP view, I recognise it is important to weigh the evidence presented by each side.

        1. @JohnB

          Having just sent you a very friendly and supportive message above, then I read your post …

          I hope I am misinterpreting you …

          I think you are saying that you feel homosexuality is a mental illness … please clarify …

          1. Stu: No – I don’t think homosexuality is a mental illness and I have also come to a view that some homosexuals may have always had a same sex attraction..

            What I was reflecting on was two conflicting reports (cited by JohnK) both supposed to originate from psychiatrists with appropriate credentials – one suggested that homosexuals could change their sexual orientation (unlike with race for example); the other (slightly different emphasis on reflection) seems to be saying this shouldn’t even be attempted because of the damage that might be caused.

            It really was to do with the integrity of CI reporting question (and the RCP come to that). I haven’t studied the evidence enough to come to a firm view, although my instinct is that if God wants humankind to be attracted to a member of the opposite sex (the appropriate context for marriage as defined in Genesis 2 – meant for most but not necessarily for all) then change could or should be possible.

            Whether what RCP is right in their statement, I have doubd although I am also aware of the damage and hurt gay folk experience (and have articulated in PN) when (to put it crudely) “well meaning” religious folk try to apply reparative therapy on them.

            Hope that helps – your request did get me thinking – so yes you would be misinterpreting me but this is the position I think I am currently at.

            PS thank you for the kind comments previous – I’m sure there will be developments on this issue and as approrpiate I will feed back including anything interesting from CI.

          2. @JohnB

            Thanks for the clarification …

            I understand the context you were looking at now …


          3. glad we cleared that up Stu.

            It is interesting though that in these discussions we can easily misunderstand and also get quite irrate if our own views are challenged.

            I suppose there is a lesson to learn for all here.

  21. Har Davids 27 Oct 2011, 7:14pm

    So now Mr. Smith is being supported by the Christian Institute and Peter Tatchell! I hope he’ll testify on behalf of Mr. Smith, it’s going to be a nice one for the books.

  22. Peter Tatchell is quite right, as usual. The Trust were right to discipline him, but the penalty is utterly disproportionate.

    Homophobia in the churches needs to be fiercely challenged, especially when they start meddling and interfering with our legitimate rights, e.g. proposals for marriage equality.

    However, we don’t do ourselves any favours by excesses like this one, it just polarises people who might otherwise accept us, albeit grudgingly.

    A written warning would have been quite sufficient and have accomplished much more.

    Gerry (not from Ayrshire !)

    1. I totally disagree!

    2. Gerry: while I go further than you (see previous posts) but I am disappointed you have received so many negative responses. I appreciate you moderation.

      An employer does need to obey the rules; the employer are right to take action when rules are broken; excesses on any side are unhelpful; homophobia in churches need to be challenged (although I dont feel opposing gay marriage is homophobic).

      1. @ JohnB

        Many thanks for your comment. Not quite sure why I seem to stirred up such a hornets’ nest and scored -13, I really didn’t think I was being particularly controversial !

        I’m not a Christian so I’m afraid my views and beliefs are probably quite different to yours, but it’s good to find a moderate Christian that can engage in respectful and constructive dialogue even when we disagree. I look forward to continuing the debate in this way. If only all your brethren were similarly considerate !

        1. @Gerry and JohnB

          Like Gerry, I am not a Christian – but I believe dialogue is respectful – even when we disagree.

          I realise there are both Christians and gay people who find such dialogue difficult or even a ridiculous concept. However, I feel if you approach it from an angle of knowing that some differences will probably be irreconcilable – there can be more understanding and some resolution of other issues from that understanding.

    3. @Gerry

      You may be right, but that would depend on knowledge of a few factors which I certainly (and I supect you) do not have access to :

      The gentlemans prior disciplinary conduct
      Precedence set by the trust on penalty for breach of code of conduct
      Other factors within the trust that can not currently be disclosed to the public/media

      1. @Stu

        I know only what I’ve read here and elsewhere, so I can judge only on that. If I understand it correctly (and yes, I may not) he mentioned it in a private capacity, not on a letterhead or whatever, and somewhere else he discloses his employment. Yes, many employers have restrictions about public postings, but it’s hardly an outrage, just something with which I don’t agree. Unless there’s evidence of homophobia (cf. Lilian Ladele) then it doesn’t seem that so dreadfully serious. A pay cut from £35k to £21k seems very draconian, especially if he has a mortgage or other commitments; he could lose his home and much of his pension. Do you want this to happen?

        The BIG problem is that it will antagonise moderate people who would otherwise leave us alone. A warning would probably have achieved a satisfactory outcome, but now it’ll become a big issue that won’t do us any favours. Worst of all, it’ll distract attention from much more important issues, e.g. Uganda, the Commonwealth.

        1. @Gerry

          I agree with a lot that you say. I particularly feel the content of his message appears to be something I disagree vehemently with but am not offended (personally) by.

          That, to be frank, is not the issue. The issue is whether he breached the employers code of conduct. Now I can only rely on what information is in the public domain, and that is that this employee did breach the code of conduct. In my view, it would be a weak employer that did not take some sanction for a known breach of their code of conduct.

          So, what we have left is determining the level of sanction that is appropriate … and they can range from informal advice, through written warning, to demotion, dismissal or (if appropriate) police referral.

          I have insufficient information on which to judge the appropriateness of the penalty. I would need to know his prior disciplinary record, precedents in the organisation, the wording of the code of conduct, recent events in the organisation regarding code etc

        2. @Gerry

          So given that I dont have that information, I hope that the employer has acted appropriately, and accept in some situations the penalty decided on would be appropriate (and arguably lenient), in other circumstances it may be seen as disproportionate.

          To be fair, the issue is one to be observed by the LGBT communities – we did not make this decision and thus we can not be held accountable for it.

          I agree Uganda etc are important issues to contend with and require a great deal of attention.

    4. Hi Gerry, what does the “(not from Ayrshire!)” in your comment mean?

      1. I think he was trying to distance himself from the views of another Gerry, who is from Ayrshire, on another thread on PN – just guessing …

        1. Oh right, I see. I was just curious as I found it a bit strange!

        2. But wouldn’t it have been easier just to use another name entirely if someone else is already using a name you want? What is the etiquette on things like that? Does anyone know?

          1. @Anthony

            Not sure if there is an etiquette on PN boards …

            I sometimes wish there was …

  23. I also think that Peter has got it wrong in condemning this housing trust. The housing trust was correct in demoting this manager. To be honest i think that Peter has lost his touch. He is no representative of mine.

  24. Once again Peter has got it wrong. I totally support the actions of the Trafford Housing Trust. It is time that Peter stepped aside.

  25. I like Stu, respect Peter Tatchell for his long and committed campaigns. But i also agree with Stu that Peter was completely wrong in condemning Trafford Housing Trust. The employee quite clearly broke their workplace code of conduct.

  26. Dr. R Guthrie 28 Oct 2011, 3:50am

    I’m quite sick and tired of these self imposed arbiters of being a gay person, representing me via their own words.

    Tatchell seems to be turning into some kind of preacher, in the belief that his quotations are true and representative of all gay people.

    Well I am not “Queer”. And I find his continual use of that word offensive.

    He is now providing fuel for “Christian Concern” who now claim he is on their side.

    Tatchell. F OFF.

    Your work is done. Stop Screwing it up.

    1. Hear Hear!

      Tatchell has to spout inflammatory views to keep himself relevant and his income coming in.
      Tatchell in this case is a bigot undermining the rights of gay people to equal protection under the law.

      This man broke his contract and offended a colleague, he was given another chance but demoted and is now giving his boss legal bills to pay + damages if he wins.
      If he loses the case he should be sacked for dragging his employer through the mud just for being an equal opportunities employer.
      Sack him and ignore Peter Tatchell’s rubbish opinions on everything

  27. This is why i cant stand Peter. One minuite es demanding people stick up for gay rights then condemns people when they do.

    They were right in their action. When in an office of authroity ans publi responsibility you have a duty to all people and can not allow doubt to exiat that you negativly view ans potentiall treat a group in society.

    1. Are you dyslexic by any chance?

      1. A) no i was tired B) thats incredibly offensive, a few tuing issues and you try to undermine what i say by infering i have a dissability.

        You should be ashamed

    2. I agree completely!
      Peter Tatchell is irrelevant and needs to find a way to top up his income.
      Undermining gay rights is the stupidest thing he can do and he will be remembered for the wrong things if he becomes more like Stonewall.

  28. I have to say I wholeheartedly agree with Peter. The fact of the matter Mr smith said in his post he has no problem with same-sex civil marriage! How is that extreme prejudice, he’s against religions being forced to perform same-sex marriage, which as Peter said is the opinion of a lot of gay rights organisations and the government. So as far as I can see his views aren’t offensive in anyway. Furthermore it was said in private, thus he should be able to say anything he likes! In the words of Voltaire “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    1. well said Daniel!

      I don’t want to lose sight though of the suggestions by Stu and other that the main issue is that he (allegedly) breached his employers code of conduct.

      Myself, I don’t see how of course and even if he had – I can’t see why the harsh penalty. I will be interested in following developments …

    2. I totally disagree with you.

  29. Well Daniel, Adrian Smith’s remarks were clearly prejudiced against the religious freedoms of same sex couples, he dismisses gay couples as people who don’t believe in God never mind that many gay people are religious and do believe in God though they may interpret scripture differently to Mr Smith.
    By what authority does a Trafford Housing Trust manager make uncalled for pronouncements about other people’s beliefs and religious freedoms?

  30. An easy way of determining if there is any discrimination against or towards gay people is to simply replace with word GAY with FEMALE / ASIAN / BLACK. If the resulting sentence sounds discriminatory, then it is.

    1. DANNY THE JEW 31 Oct 2011, 9:54pm

      i am a christian, and straight, i am glad to see a few gay persons not acting in a hate filled manner towards christians. the truth is, christians who really try to follow God, are loving people but also are obliged to follow laws by grace. gay or lesbian behaviour is not the same as racial, or gender issues. 430 yrs of slavery was never imposed on gay people, but it was on black africans. women have been sold as property as slaves for millenia, gays never have. children are trafficked to this day. gays never have. yours is an issue of morality NOT DISCRIMINATION! gays have acted their desires for hundreds of years in europe, and thousands from greece to rome. the biggest lie and insult is to blacl people whom you gays insult when you say u r persecuted. think about what u say. that point is your undoing. behaviour is not the same as race. gender is not the same as sexual preference. i have gay friends but they do not hate christians. they admire the good they do in the community, including gays and lesbians, but Christ loves the sinner, but hates the sin, for sin pushes you away from the loving embrace of God. You will learn this truth when u die-we are spirit beings, and should act as such, not led by the lusts of the flesh, whether homo or hetero. Sin is sin, and this is death to us all. Life is Christ, and righteousness to us all. Believe this spiritual truth, and cry Out to God, in sincere plea from your heart. He will respond and heal your pain and suffering, and His Love will mend your heart from hurt.

      1. Yawn Yawn Yawn – same old rhetoric

        Gay people are discriminated against … and to be blinkered to that fact is risible

      2. Jock S. Trap 13 Nov 2011, 11:38am


  31. According to the CI article, the manager’s comment ” an equality too far” was linked to an article about the possibilty of people being allowed to have civil partnerships in religious premises by those groups that wanted it.

    This is rather different to Peter’s misrepresentation of the facts.

    But according to the Trust he wasn’t demoted for his opinions, but for a breach of the code of practice, and had a full hearing where he was represented.

  32. I wonder if anyone would criticise an employer who showed similar concern about an employee who broadcast the same comment on Facebook as this judge did in the quote below:

    Religious objections to same-sex marriage, frequently utilized by gay marriage opponents, also played a primary role in creating a moral justification for miscegenation bans. Take, for example, a Virginia trial judge’s religious objection to mixed-race marriages:

    “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend the races to mix.”

    1. That should say ‘as this judge said…’

  33. As someone who works in the public sector we have rules and regulations which we have to adhere to. We are also encouraged to express personal views and prejudices away from any public forum…including facebook. I have views about my clients, of course I do but I wouldn’t dream of posting them onto the internet because IT IS UNPROFESSIONAL!

    We all have a right to say what we want. I don’t think anyone is debating that here but we also have a responsibility to express discretion and think about the consequences of our words before we run our mouths off.

    Such a demotion is harsh but as Stu says (and yet again speaks true) we don’t know what other issues there have been.

  34. “It is bizarre that the minister for equality wants to maintain the discriminatory laws that prohibit gay couples from having a religious marriage” – Peter Tatchell Pink News 19 September 2011

  35. I side with Stu on this. Peter Tatchell was wrong in condemning this housing managers employers. I believe they took the wrong action against the employee mentioned.

  36. HelenWilson 29 Oct 2011, 4:35am

    What I say on my facebook page on my own time is my business. No employer has the right to go snooping into employees private business. (EU law right to a family and private life)

    I completely disagree with what this man has said ,but I respect his right to free speech in private. He is not forcing his misguided view onto us so he has not caused us offence.

    On the other hand Trafford Housing Trust has caused us offence by acting in a inappropriate manner on our behalf.

    1. GingerlyColors 29 Oct 2011, 5:19am

      I agree. I once read of a young woman who got sacked from her job because she wrote about her boring work on Facebook. I can understand it if she did it on a works computer during work time but what we do at home, whether it is online or in the privacy of our bedrooms is OUR business!

    2. No Helen, not if you identify yourself as a Trafford Housing Trust manager on your facebook page and then go on to make uncalled for derogatory remarks about minorities specifically in breach of of your employer’s code of conduct as well as their equalities commitments.
      THT’s Statement:

      1. Pavlos: He wasn’t making derogatory remarks about anyone. He expressed his views on marriage in a measured and reasonable way. By the way I disagree with his views.

        1. He said he didn’t understand why (gay) couples who didn’t believe in God would want to get married in church.
          As though by inference if you are a gay couple and you want to get married you could not believe in God…simply because you are gay, it’s a comment that I interpret as intentionally offensive and derogatory.
          Although I am not a theist myself, I understand that there are gay people who are and who have a right to religious freedom like anyone else.

        2. @Pavlos

          Seems that we are of a similar mindset on this one …

          I also am not a theist, although I find theism intellectually interesting … but I do recognise that some people (both LGBT and not) find some value in various strands of theism, and they should be entitled to that human right (exercised with responsibility) of freedom of religion, including opportunity to have a religious ceremony in connection to their marriage.

          Whether Smith intended to appear to be intolerant or non-accepting of LGBT people, that is the message that was portrayed …

          However, the decision of his employer to discipline him was not directly connected to his actual statement

    3. Absolutely not, Helen

      If your employer (whoever they are) have a policy on disclosure of information on social media (which if they do not have such a policy, then they are acting in a remiss fashion regarding information security) then they can and should expect you to not disclose any information relating to your employment without consent of your employer and anyone else who is affected by such disclosure …

      You do indeed have a right to freedom of speech, and a family and private life …

      Disclosure of your employer does not come within those freedoms …

      Exercising those freedoms is not a blanket provision – they are to be exercised with responsibility … because your exercising of your own rights may impact on others rights …

      The housing trust have made no comment on the content of the message on facebook and therefore were not acting for or against the LGBT communities … it was the breach of contract that this gentlemen made a conscious decision to breach …

    4. No Helen. Mr Smith clearly breached his employers code of conduct and as such actions had to be taken.

  37. GingerlyColors 29 Oct 2011, 5:16am

    At one time Peter Tatchell was seen as being too extreme in his views – even by mainstream gays but after his attempt to carry out a citizens’ arrest on Robert Mugabe was thwarted by his thugs he gained a certain respectability amongst the British people. Today he understands the importance of free speech and feels that the likes of Adrian Smith should not have his life (and that of any dependants) ruined because of his Facebook comments.

    1. It has nothing to do with the comments of Mr Smith and all to do with his breaching his employers code of conduct

    2. The employee clearly breached his employers code of conduct!

  38. From National Secular Society.
    “The Trust updated its code of conduct for employees at the end of 2010 and provided all staff with a copy. The document set out what use employees could make of social networking sites such as Facebook.

    Backed by the Christian Institute, he is now taking his employer to court, seeking compensation for loss of income and a declaration that the Trust’s actions are an unlawful interference with his rights to free speech and religious liberty.

    There is often more to these cases than is reported in the media and the NSS will be monitoring Mr Smith’s progress in court to see if there were other factors involved in his demotion. If the case is as it appears, then we would support his right to express his personal views, whether we agree with them or not, as a human right to free expression.”

    1. @Pavlos

      A very fair and reasonable response from the NSS ….

      I suspect his employer were in the right, and that it had nothing to do with the content of Mr Smiths message (which I disagree with, but a view he is both entitled to hold and talk about – whether on facebook or elsewhere) … What he is not entitled to do is breach his employers code of conduct …

      If he had a clean disciplinary record and there was no precedent set of demotion for breach of code of conduct or other significant factors within his organisation relating to this code of conduct, then the penalty imposed might be excessive but unless we know that then as the NSS says it is impossible to judge – and on this one I am more inclined to agree with the housing trust (as they appear to have responded to the media interest with honesty and fairness) – unlike the Christian Institute …

      1. @ Stu

        Please don’t take this a personal dig, it certainly isn’t, but I’m just genuinely curious. I think you mentioned that you were a policeman and became a paramedic. It’s quite possible that your employers have had similar codes of conduct, so can you say hand on heart that you’ve never, ever breached it by posting anything that was even a wee bit confidential, not 100% official policy, or with which someone might possibly disagree?

        If you had always used your real name, would all your posts have been exactly the same and would you be 100% certain that you would never have been called upon to explain yourself? In other words, is Adrian Smith being harshly punished for being honest enough to use his full name rather than hiding behind ‘Ade’ or suchlike, the way that most of us do on PN?

        Once again, it’s just a thought and nothing personal, but I hope you can see the potential conundrum. BTW, I hope you’ll soon have fully recovered from your injury and be back at work !

        1. @Gerry

          I didnt regard your comment as a dig at me at all :-)

          Certainly both ambulance services, 2 other NHS Trusts and the police service I have worked for all have very clear codes of conduct which include information governance, confidentiality and use of social networking media.

          I can not put my hand of my heart and say I have never breached the code of conduct in a minor way through carelessness etc.

          I try to uphold good standards of confidentiality (and am scrupulous on that). I also have a disclaimer on my facebook page that opinions are my own and not of any current or former employer. I do not disclose my employer in any case.

          I would expect if I did commit some information governance of disclosure “offence” that my employer would punish me, and the severity of that punishment would be determined by the actual damage caused, potential damage cause, my prior disciplinary record, precedent in the organisation and any need to send out a message to the workforce.

        2. @Gerry

          Thanks for your good wishes

  39. Peter Tatchchell is a joke. He is got it wrong yet again. Trafford Housing Trust are right i my opinion, with the action they took against Adrian Smith.

  40. Dr. R Guthrie 29 Oct 2011, 7:58pm

    Hi Stu.

    Are we counting the number of times the “Religous” are screwing us yet.

    I am.

    And every time it occurs I am going to introduce an incremented count to these fora, reminding you of that fact.

    Apologise for their right of belief if you will, however their must come a time whereby they are drawn to account for their actions and the end result of those actions.

    I’m watching and counting.

    1. Hang on, Dr Guthrie

      Have you even bothered to read this thread?

      You will see that I am challenging the religious … and pointing out that their claims that this is about freedom of speech is false

      Now watch and count all you at me … but I am not pro religion … never have been never will be …

      What I am is pro human rights, balance and fairness …

      Not that you seem to understand balance, proportionality and fairness

      1. correction – all you want …

        Incidentally, I took your post as an attack on me personally … if you didnt mean that, then please explain how I am meant to interpret your message (ideally without resorting to inflammatory language)

    2. Dear Dr Guthrie:
      As one of the “religious” I would like to know how I am screwing you? Happy to be held accountable for my actions – hope you are too!?

      1. Apologies for jumping in before Dr. Robin, but in the meantime here’s my sixpenn’orth…

        Maybe not your good self JohnB, but unfortunately many of your religious colleagues certainly do! In a nutshell, they are not content to draw up some rules just for their own followers to obey, but they seek to impose their religious views on everyone else; in particular they actively seek to deny rights to LGBT people.

        For example, you’re probably aware of the actions of the Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, who has written to all Scottish parishes to urge them to oppose plans to give gay couples the right to marry. That’s just one example of intolerance by the religious. In other countries such as Uganda it’s far, far worse, and it’s sadly it’s evangelical Christians who are often the ring leaders. And as for the Westboro Baptist Church… Yes, I’m sure you’re nothing like them, but far too many religious organisations promote views which are basically similar albeit not quite so extreme

        1. @Gerry

          I agree with everything you say …

          I particularly agree with your argument that not all religious organisations are out to “get us” as LGBT people …

          That is notwithstanding that there are some (many?) who are ….

          I would go further and say that on many occasions it is leaders of organisations such as the Archbishop of Glasgow who make proclamations to their “flock” and expect adherence to (regardless of whether their “flock” share allegiance to the specific policy they are making). Of course, there are some in those organisations who follow blindly everything their leaders say, many more do not … If I was a Chrsitian (which I am not) then I would not think that my church leader wuld get me into heaven, that would be my responsibility – therefore following a church leaders proclamations should be tested on grounds of morals and ethics first – many see that the homophobic attitude of some church leaders inconsistent with their morality or what they understand of …

        2. … their faith.

          There are always going to be disputes and disagreements when philosophy or theology or ideology is involved. We need to be careful not to fight our argument and corner by becoming faith-phobic or vehemently anti-religious … To do so is to become reverse bigoted. Fighting bigotry with bigotry is not sensible and has never worked (been tried for centuries but failed).

          What we need to do is challenge those who hold bigoted views to examine their consciences. To persuade those who are pro-gay to speak out and challenge the bigots in the church. We need to be strong and not weaken our stance by becoming bigots ourselves. We need to be scrupulous and have a clear and honest agenda. Otherwise, we are no better than those bigots within the church who seek to undermine us and treat us as less than human. We must rise above it, and we will continue to develop our rights and freedoms and normalization of LGBT people in society.

        3. In many senses, religion in the argument of pursuing LGBT rights, and past historical actions of the religious – is a diversion from what we should be seeking, but it is a factor important to many (including some LGBT people) – so we need to pursue our primary objectives of fairness, equality and normalization for LGBT people with rigour and determination, yet still be prepared to engage and persuade and challenge people who have religious beliefs.

          People who are LGBT are part of society.

          People with faith are part of society.

          There are people who are part of both “camps” …

          Society should not give bias to one person or one group of people over another – which is why law should not be blinkered by faith, race, orientation, gender, age, diability etc etc – law must be blind to all these issues.

        4. Gerry: thank you for your “reasonable” response. I agree with much of what you, and also Stu in response, say.

          Of the 3 examples, I am probably more likely to agree with Mario Conti, although I need to study more what he says and its context. However, I am repulsed by the actions of Westboro Baptist Churrch and fear that you may be right in your observations of homophobic Ugandan Christian leaders and their western supporters.

          Personally, speaking, I do not follow any Christian leader – I respect them because of their position and especially when I sense they are called by God. Always, I subject any pronouncements to what I beleive the Bible teaches (or does not). I realise Catholics don’t quite have that freedom and among non Catholics there are those who sadly lord over the flock rather than act as good under-shepherds. The need to proclaim / hear the authentic voice of God in our day is nevertheless urgent.

    1. I think Tatchell and Rev Ferguson are unwise to speculate whether Mr Smith has been treated harshly or not, without knowledge of his prior conduct, precedent within the housing trust for breach of code of conduct etc etc …

  41. Another Hannah 30 Oct 2011, 3:06pm

    Take a look at NHS contracts – if your saw patients being murdered you wouldn’t be able to mention disgust in public – you can only report to authorities or the Police, you could be fired if you did. Why does he get special treatment inthis country? I have no sympathy because I know just how much “Christians” allow to happen if it isn’t them suffereing.

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