Posts Tagged ‘Relate’

Today saw a major victory for common sense and about bloody time. Gary McFarlane was told in no uncertain terms that he could not appeal any further in his fight to have his sacking overturned.

Gary is a Christian who, not surprisingly, thinks it’s evil to be gay. He was a counsellor for Relate until he was sacked for refusing to counsel gay couples. Relate has a pledge where they promise to provide equal access to their services regardless of sexuality, a pledge Gary had previously agreed to. He was also bound by the terms of his employment contract which stated he had to treat all clients equally. This, Gary wasn’t prepared to do.

Gary believed he was a special case, that he was exempt from the laws the rest of us are bound by. He thought he was so special that he should be allowed to discriminate against gay people for no other reason than he’d decided he didn’t agree with their behaviour. He tried to argue that to force him to counsel gay couples would be to discriminate against him because of his religion, he went on to say that to sack him for refusing to comply was to sack him because of his religion and therefore unfair.

Gary and his legal team misunderstood the law however. The judge found that Relate would have acted in the same way had a non-Christian member of staff wished to discriminate in the way Gary did, and thus it wasn’t discrimination. Lord Justice Laws explained to the court that in a free and equal society we must offer 2 levels of religious protection: firstly the protection to choose a religion and secondly that no particular religious view is given preferential treatment. He pointed out to Gary that while the law rightly provides the protection to believe in a particular religion it cannot be used to protect the ‘content’ of a particular religious belief:

So it is that the law must firmly safeguard the right to hold and express religious belief; equally firmly, it must eschew any protection of such a belief’s content in the name only of its religious credentials. Both principles are necessary conditions of a free and rational regime

Gary McFarlane is a bigoted Christian who thinks that because he chooses to base his life on a fictional text from thousands of years ago he should have the right to ignore discrimination laws. I’m thankful the court has ruled that the rights of innocent gay people are more important than the rights of someone who’s made a personal choice to believe bollocks.

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