Minister who wrote Sinitta’s disco anthem So Macho wins religious discrimination claim after comparing homosexuality to paedophilia
A church minister who wrote Sinitta’s disco anthem “So Macho” has won a religious discrimination claim over his right to compare homosexuals to paedophiles.
Pentecostal reverend George Hargreaves, who once said his 1985 hit “So Macho” was partly intended “for the gay scene to go mad to on poppers”, left the music industry to found the right-wing Christian Party in 2004.
He currently works as a night concierge for a London-based homeless charity, where he offended a colleague by sharing his religious views on homosexuality.
An employment tribunal was told that Hargreaves’ co-worker Elizabeth Akano remarked that “people are born gay”, to which he replied: “Paedophiles make the same argument.”
He went on to say that “even if people are born with a condition, that does not put it beyond God’s ability to change or heal it.”
Akano, who is in her 20s, went on to research Hargreaves’ well-documented views on homosexuality. After this she began ignoring him at work and in January 2019 she told him that she no longer respected him.
Hargreaves launched a formal complaint against Akano, claiming that her actions had created a “hostile, humiliating environment” for him.
In response Akano submitted a complaint of her own, stating that the minister’s comments amounted to homophobia. When neither complaints were upheld, Hargreaves appealed the decision.
“It is reasonable for me to say, in response to Liz and anyone who says that ‘people are born gay’, that paedophiles would also say that they were born that way,” he argued during the grievance process.
“This is my standard response to the argument about people being born as homosexual. It is not illegal to put the two words in the same sentence.”
Shockingly, judge Andrew James ruled in the minister’s favour, concluding that he had been unfairly targeted by Akano on the grounds of his religious beliefs.
“The claimant is correct to say that it is not illegal to use those words together, in the sense that it is not a criminal offence,” he said in a written ruling.
“Many people however, whatever their sexual orientation, who do not share the claimant’s deeply held and genuine religious beliefs, would find the use of those words in that context to be offensive. Ms Akano found them offensive, as did [the area manager].
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“The members of this tribunal understand why they would do so. Indeed, making such a remark in a work context could well amount to harassment related to sexual orientation.”
Whether Hargreaves will be awarded compensation will be decided at a later date.