Prison gardener claims he is being persecuted… after telling gay inmates to ‘repent’
A prison gardener claims is suing his former employer for ‘constructive dismissal’ – after telling gay inmates they must repent their homosexuality to please God.
The row began when the gardener at HMP Littlehey in Bedfordshire, Barry Trayhorn, began helping with chapel services due to his work as a Pentecostal minister.
However during a chapel service in 2014, he told the “sexually immoral” and “men who have sex with men” that they must abandon their sins to “inherit the kingdom of God”.
Following complaints, Trayhorn was banned from taking part in future services and told to stick to his gardening duties – though he claims he was just “sharing the Bible”.
In November 2014, Trayhorn resigned – claiming that he was being ‘harassed’ due to his Christian faith, while facing other questions about his conduct as a gardener.
Speaking to the Daily Mail after taking legal action, the gardener claimed that he is being persecuted because of his faith.
He claimed: “I simply said what the Bible says. Prisoners have a right to hear God’s word, just as much as anyone else. If people come to a Christian chapel service, we cannot keep God’s message from them.
“As I led the service, I spoke about the wonder of God’s love and the forgiveness that comes through Jesus to those who recognise their sin and repent. I said that I am the worst sinner I know.
“But that wasn’t politically correct. The mere mention of homosexual behaviour in the Bible verses that I quoted provoked complaint. I was immediately barred from taking part in chapel services and trouble came my way.
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He also claimed: “In the nearly three years since I started work until February 2014, there was one disciplinary issue over a lost tool. Once people started to comment on what I said in chapel, however, five issues were raised in quick succession.
“I was put under enormous pressure. This is about the expression of Christian faith. I am being punished simply for daring to say what the Bible says.”
Andrea Williams of the anti-LGBT Christian Legal Centre claimed:”It is astonishing that Rev Barry Trayhorn was forced out of a sex-offenders’ prison for mentioning what the Bible says about sexual ethics during a chapel service.
“Prisoners have rights to go to church and they attend chapel services voluntarily. No-one should be denied an opportunity, if they want it, to hear what God has to say about the way to restoration, least of all those in prison for sexual offences.
“Mr Trayhorn’s words were nothing that couldn’t be found in a rural parish church on a Sunday morning and were an explanation of repentance and forgiveness.
“Is the version of the Bible given to prisoners now to be censored to remove anything that people may find difficult to hear?”