Peter Tatchell, an LGBT campaigner has offered to testify on behalf of a Christian employee for remarks he made on Facebook stating that civil partnerships in churches is an “equality too far.”
Adrian Smith, a housing manager in the U.K. with Trafford Housing Trust, has worked with the company for over 18 years. In response to the comment, which was made on his private Facebook, the company has demoted him and reduced his salary by 40 percent
“Trafford Housing Trust (THT), based near Manchester, was wrong, in my view, to demote Smith and cut his salary,” Tatchell wrote in the Huffington Post.
Smith was found guilty of gross misconduct after it was concluded that his housing association is publicly-funded. The comment was made in regards to a BBC headline that read: “Gay church ‘marriages’ set to get go-ahead.”
Smith’s Facebook comment went on to state that he felt civil unions were a state issue but that those unions excluded Christian marriage.
"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,” he wrote on Facebook.
Tatchell will testify on Smith’s behalf because he feels that Smith has done nothing wrong.
“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,” Tatchell wrote.
The company has charged that Smith violated regulations by associating the company name with his personal Facebook, and has made claims that the comment makes the company appear disreputable.
However, despite Tatchell’s strong backing for Smith, other members of the LGTB community have strongly supported the harsh punishment.
Tatchell disagrees: “If a gay employee was treated this harshly by a Christian organization for writing pro-gay comments on their personal Facebook page, there would quite rightly be an outcry and accusations of homophobia. Why, then, are some lesbian and gay people supporting such a harsh penalty for Adrian Smith?”
The recent case against Adrian Smith adds to a rising concern for Christians in the United Kingdom. Judicial review was granted earlier this month after a commercial by Premier Christian Radio was banned on-air.
The ad quoted surveys, which claimed that 60 percent of active Christians are being increasingly marginalized in the workplace.
Premier’s CEO Peter Kerridge commented at that time: “Christians need to be able to express their views without fear and censorship. The proposed advert simply asks for Christians to tell us of their experiences. If this is not allowed then the UK Government will effectively be suppressing the views of a massive proportion of citizens and banning free speech.”