Christian manager demoted over ‘homophobic’ facebook comments
Adrian Smith opposes churches being forced to conduct gay marriages
Manager should be reinstated and, at worst, given a reprimand
London – 27 October 2011
"Trafford Housing Trust was wrong to demote and cut the salary of Christian housing manager Adrian Smith over remarks he made on his personal facebook page, opposing churches being forced to conduct same-sex marriages,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“The Trust was acting with good intentions in a bid to ensure equal opportunities, non-discrimination and inclusive service provision. Although its commitment to equality for lesbian and gay people is commendable, its response to Mr Smith’s remarks is excessive and disproportionate.
Mr Smith reportedly wrote on his private facebook (not the facebook of the Trafford Housing Trust):
“an equality too far.....the bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women if the state wants to offer civil marriage to same sex then that is up to the state; but they shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience.”
“This is not a particularly homophobic viewpoint. Adrian Smith’s opposition to churches being compelled to hold gay marriages is shared by much of the population, including many equality and human rights organisations,” added Peter Tatchell.
“I am opposed to churches being forced by law to conduct same-sex marriages. I do, however, support an end to the legal ban on faith organisations holding gay weddings where they wish to do so. The Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism want to perform same-sex marriages and they want the law changed to enable them to do this. I support their appeal for law reform.
"Adrian Smith reportedly made his comments in his own time on his personal facebook page, which is not viewed by the general public. He expressed an opinion. He did not personally discriminate against anyone. There is no evidence that he has treated any of his gay housing clients adversely.
“His only possible misdemeanour is that he made his comments on a facebook page where he identifies himself as an employee of the Trafford Housing Trust, allegedly contrary to the Trust’s rules.
“His opposition to religious organisations being forced to conduct same-sex marriages is shared by the Prime Minister and the Equality Minister, the gay rights group Stonewall and the entire leadership of the Church of England. If Mr Smith is guilty, then they are all guilty.
"Mr Smith voiced his opinion in a calm, non-abusive manner. He was not threatening or intimidating.
"In a democratic society, he has a right to express his point of view, even if it is misguided and wrong. Freedom of speech should only be limited or penalised in extreme circumstances, such as when a person incites violence against others. Mr Smith's words did not cross this threshold.
"It would have been sufficient for Trafford Housing Trust to have warned him about making discriminatory remarks in forums where he is identified as their employee. I hope they will now do this.
“I urge Trafford Housing Trust to revoke his demotion and salary cut," said Mr Tatchell.
See this report in the Mail on Sunday:
Read the response of Trafford Housing Trust:
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