Gary McFarlane appeal judgment expected in a few weeks’ time

11 September 2009

A crucial case for Christian liberties was argued in the Employment Appeal Tribunal on 10th and 11th September. Gary McFarlane, a relationship counsellor, was sacked because his Christian beliefs prevented him giving sex therapy counselling to homosexual couples.

Gary McFarlane had worked for Relate since 2003. He was disappointed with the hostility he had experienced from Relate. Although Mr McFarlane had never had to provide sex therapy to a same sex couple, he thought that if the situation did arise, he would be able to discuss his Christian views with his supervisors so that his position could be discussed and if necessary accommodated. Any such discussions were, however, pre-empted by unexpected meetings between Mr McFarlane and his manager in October 2007 when he was asked to state his views regarding same sex couples. Despite explaining that he would counsel couples in compliance with Relate’s Equal Opportunities Policy, and that he would raise any issues with his supervisors and manager, as good practice required, Mr McFarlane was suspended in early January 2008 and then dismissed in March 2008. Mr McFarlane was given no other choice than to subject his religious faith to the Equal Opportunities Policy.

Although he won his wrongful dismissal claim at the first Trial the issue of his religious liberty was considered by the Employment Appeal Tribunal on 10th and 11th September 2009

A fundamental issue was raised in this case as to whether Christian faith presents a bar to Governmental and numerous private sector employments. In a number of decisions it has been held lawful for an employer to require adherence to an Equal Opportunities Policy, and compel Christians to support the practice of sexual conduct that they believe is sinful. In short, a condition of employment will be the support of practices contrary to their faith. These rulings will drive many Christians out of many employments; and in an age in which the Government is an important employer, significant restriction on our liberties is taking place.

We await the judgment in the near future.

Find out more about Gary McFarlane
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