A housing trust in England has doubled down on its decision to terminate a housing manager who voiced her belief in the biblical definition of marriage while campaigning for mayor of her local community.
The LONDON & Quadrant Housing Trust (L&Q), which houses over 250,000 people, issued a statement this week in response to legal action filed by former employee Maureen Martin, who claims she was terminated this spring after voicing her beliefs on marriage in a leaflet during her campaign for mayor of Lewisham.
In a statement shared on its website, L&Q claimed that several of its residents complained about Martin's leaflet. The trust maintains that it respects "individuals’ freedom to hold particular religious or other beliefs" but will "not tolerate it when these beliefs are manifested in a way that is derogatory or offensive to others."
"L&Q therefore has a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination of any kind — whether that be shown through actions or words in the workplace, made public on social media channels, or shared in other publicly available materials or forums," the statement reads.
"This matter was investigated in accordance with L&Q’s policies and procedures, and in line with equalities legislation and the ACAS code of practice, and the appropriate action taken. We have also engaged with our diversity networks during this case and are united in our commitment to a zero-tolerance approach.”
Maureen Martin, the 56-year-old ordained minister and president of the Christian People’s Alliance, took legal action this week after she was dismissed by L&Q for gross misconduct after 13 years of service.
“The case is believed to be the first of its kind to see a political candidate sacked by their employer for their Christian beliefs,” the CLC said in a statement, adding that lawyers will file a lawsuit on the grounds of discrimination, harassment, indirect discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Martin, who also serves as president of the Christian People’s Alliance (CPA), had outlined her political position on various issues in the leaflet, including marriage.
“Marriage: I pledge to cut through political correctness and simply state the truth that natural marriage between a man and a woman is the fundamental building block for a successful society, and the safest environment for raising children,” read the election leaflet, just as the CPA’s election manifesto says.
Someone posted an image of the leaflet on Twitter, calling it against the law and hate speech. Three complaints followed, telling L&Q’s chief executive that Martin’s beliefs should have no place at the company. The Christian candidate was described in the complaint as “bigoted” in need of “anti-oppressive training.”
Martin was soon “suspended, investigated, hindered from campaigning as part of the election and then dismissed for allegedly bringing L&Q into disrepute, breaching social media policy and failing to declare political interests.”
In a statement, the CPA, a political party formed in 1999, said Martin's beliefs on marriage are "what millions of people believe and is a belief that is protected in U.K. law."
"Discriminated against for daring to follow the teachings of Christ, senior management at London & Quadrant Housing Trust (L&Q), one of the largest housing associations in England, took the disgraceful step of bowing to the Twitter mob under the guise of ‘hate speech,'" the party's statement reads.
"It’s worth remembering that offense is part of a functioning society. This fine nation once stood on the pedestal of freedom of speech however, this unparalleled action seems to be a way for the LGBT cartel to dictate our thoughts and feelings. This can never be acceptable."
"We simply can’t have a nation that prosecutes citizens for speaking out against immoral behavior or for having a different opinion," the statement continues. "How did we fall so far?"
Martin said she was "devastated" by the termination but "not surprised."
“It is telling that Lewisham council dismissed the same complaints against me because my political speech is protected," she said in a statement. “I have a right to express my own Christian beliefs in my own private time and should not be required to self-censor valid beliefs on marriage, abortion and U.S. politics.”
Her dismissal letter said her views could be “perceived to be discriminatory, hurtful and offensive views toward members of the LGBTQ+ community, non-traditional families, and abortion.”
In the legal action, Martin’s lawyers contend “her dismissal was in breach of her right to political speech under Articles 9 and 10 of the ECHR and that her dismissal was ‘outside the band of reasonable responses’ in all the circumstances of the case,” CLC said.
The lawyers will argue that L&Q “maintained an entrenched position during disciplinary procedures and that the protected characteristic of sexual orientation took priority over that of religion or belief.”
Martin said she was “disturbed” by how Christian beliefs on marriage, “which have been held and expressed for thousands of years, are being silenced and treated with such hostility and disdain.”
“The message this is sending is if you want to engage politically and make a difference in your community, but if your views don’t line up with the liberal agenda, you can potentially be fired from your job," she said.
“If my manifesto had been in support of same-sex marriage, would I have had the same response?”
L&Q was recently nominated for an award from the LGBT advocacy news outlet Pink News, CLC noted.
Earlier this year, L&Q was named by LGBT advocacy group Stonewall to its “top 100 employers list” for the sixth time in nine years.
Martin told The Daily Mail that she believes the desire of L&Q management to remain in good favor with the LGBT activist group Stonewall was a factor in her dismissal.
“L&Q are a woke organization," she was quoted as saying. “The endorsement from Stonewall was important to L&Q.”
CLC Chief Executive Andrea Williams said, “We have never seen a case like this which sends a crushing message to anyone who believes in Christian marriage and wishes to express those beliefs at work or in public office.”
The LGBT ideology, he added, “has captured institutions to such an extent that free speech and Christian freedoms have been intimidated into silenced.”