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Christian charity worker suspended for being opposed to same-sex marriage

Mathew Hywel April 14, 2009
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A charity worker who revealed to a colleague that he did not believe in gay marriage or the ordination of gay clergy has been suspended from his job.

Born-again Christian David Booker, 44, who works as a hostel support worker in Southampton for the non-religious charity Society of St James, told co-worker Fiona Vardy about his beliefs but denied being homophobic.

Soon after the incident on 26th March, Mr Brooker received a suspension notice which was issued to “safeguard both residents and staff” following the “events that happened last night”.

An investigation and a disciplinary hearing have been ordered.

The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) have assigned human rights lawyer Paul Diamond to defend Mr Brooker.

Director of the CLC Andrea Minichello Williams said: “No date has been set for the investigation and disciplinary hearing.

“This case shows that in today’s politically correct, increasingly secularised society, even consenting reasonable discussion on religion between two employees is being twisted by employers to discriminate and silence the Christian voice and freedom of expression.

“The Archbishop of Canterbury, as patron, has confirmed the Church’s teaching on marriage, same-sex relationships and homosexuality and that is in the public domain.

“We are interested to know whether his patronage is now under threat under the charity’s Culture and Diversity Code of Conduct.”

The Society of St James maintain that their decision was based on Mr Brooker’s decision to promote his religious views at work “which contained discriminatory comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation”.

The case follows a number of high-profile suspensions regarding religious views.

Last year, Lillian Ladele, 48, from Finsbury, was threatened with the sack after she told Islington borough council she could not carry out civil partnerships for gay couples due to her Christian beliefs.

An employment tribunal in 2008 had ruled in favour of Ms Ladele but the council successfully appealed the decision at the Employment Appeals Tribunal earlier this month.

Gary McFarlane, a Christian, claimed for wrongful dismissal against counselling service Relate.

He said that he had “overcome” his prejudices against same-sex couples since he began working as a Relate counsellor in 2003, but in subsequent work as a psychsexual therapist, he felt he would be “encouraging sin” when working with gays and lesbians.

A tribunal in January ruled he had not been discriminated againt on the grounds of his religious belief. A claim of unfair dismissal was also rejected.

However, Related addmitted wrongfully dismissing Mr McFarlane as it should have given him notice to leave instead of dismissing him on the grounds of gross misconduct and accepted his claim of wrongful dismissal.

Related topics: Employment

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