‘An equality too far’
A Christian employee who was demoted after criticising gay weddings on his Facebook page has been told he cannot use human rights arguments to contest the decision. The ruling was handed down by District Judge Charles Khan at Manchester County Court.
Adrian Smith vowed to continue his legal action, claiming breach of contract. This means Mr Smith’s legal case against his employer can still proceed, but the ruling means he cannot rely on his human rights to defend himself.
The court heard that Mr Smith was a housing manager at Trafford Housing Trust (THT) when, on Sunday 13 February 2011, he posted a link on his personal Facebook page to a BBC news story entitled ‘Gay church marriages get go-ahead’, and added his own comment — ‘an equality too far’.
The comment was made on his personal Facebook page, in his own personal time, and was only visible to his Facebook friends and their friends.
Two colleagues read his Facebook comment. One of them posted a response asking Mr Smith: ‘Does this mean you don’t approve?’
The court heard that Mr Smith then posted on the evening of Monday 14 February: ‘I don’t understand why people who have no faith and don’t believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church.
‘The Bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women. If the State wants to offer civil marriage 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’.
The comments were brought to the attention of THT and Mr Smith was disciplined. He was demoted from his position as housing manager and his salary was reduced by 40 per cent. He unsuccessfully appealed against the decision.
Mr Smith said he would continue to argue that his employer is in breach of contract. The case is likely to be heard in the summer.