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Counsellor who wouldn’t work with gays to appeal

Jessica Geen April 15, 2010

A Christian counsellor who refused to work with gay couples is taking his case to the Court of Appeal.

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

He is to ask for permission to appeal against an employment tribunal ruling last year, which ruled against him. The case will be heard today by a single judge.

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.

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

At the employment tribunal, 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.

It was reported that former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey would call for such cases to be heard by a panel of five judges with understanding of religious issues.

A letter to the Daily Telegraph signed by high-profile Christians such as Caroline Petrie, who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient, warned that recent judgments against Christians were “disturbing” and “dangerous”.

Last month, a Christian registrar who was disciplined because she would not officiate civil partnerships was refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Lillian Ladele resigned from Islington council in 2007 after being threatened with the sack. She claims she was a victim of discrimination because of her religious beliefs.

She is now considering whether to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

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