A Christian mayoral candidate for a London borough has won a substantial pay-out after being sacked by her employer for expressing Christian beliefs on marriage as part of an election manifesto.
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Maureen Martin was dismissed by her housing association employer, L&Q, in May 2022 for gross misconduct following three complaints for alleged ‘hate speech’.
The settlement with Miss Martin takes into account loss of earnings as a result of the sacking, injury to feelings in relation to ‘discriminatory dismissal’ and ‘pretermination treatment’.
The case is believed to be the first of its kind to see a political candidate sacked by their employer for their Christian beliefs.
Maureen, who is an ordained minister and President of the Christian Peoples’ Alliance (CPA) had worked for L&Q as a housing manager for 13 years with an unblemished record.
Ahead of last year’s local elections, in her manifesto, Miss Martin had outlined her political position on fly tipping, knife crime and tax, and on marriage she had written:
“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.”
After distributing the manifesto throughout Lewisham, Miss Martin was hounded on social media for her beliefs. Anonymous complaints were then made to her employer branding her beliefs as ‘hate speech’, ‘illegal’ and called for her to be disciplined and to take part in “anti-oppressive training”.
She was then suspended, interrogated, investigated, and then sacked.
In an investigation meeting, Miss Martin was told that her tweets, which included comments about transgenderism in women’s sport, and her manifesto, were “homophobic, and had breached L&Q’s social media policy and had potentially brought the company into disrepute”.
Miss Martin launched legal action against L&Q on the grounds of discrimination, harassment, indirect discrimination, and unfair dismissal.
Lawyers said that 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.
Furthermore, they said 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. The case has been described as an “attack on democracy”.
Following her sacking, 42,000 people signed a petition calling on the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to Amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to protect free speech.
L&Q houses over 250,000 people in the south-east and widely advertises its objectives to maintain a high-ranking in Stonewall’s Equality index. Last year the housing association was nominated for an award from LGBT campaigning outlet, Pink News.
‘I will stand again’
Miss Martin and her family have lived in Lewisham for 62 years after her parents emigrated from Jamaica. She has described the devastating impact her sudden sacking had on her including the loss of income while living with and caring for an elderly parent.
Now, following the settlement, which has come one year since the last local elections, Miss Martin said:
“I am pleased that L&Q has paid out such a substantial sum following the sacking. I know God brought me through this situation and I cannot emphasise more the importance of Christians taking a stand when being discriminated against.
“If you don’t challenge, you walk away with nothing and the employer who has discriminated against you believes that they have done nothing wrong and are likely to treat someone else similarly.
“It was chilling what happened to me, but I am now stronger for it. Much of our culture is now anti-Christian and believes that biblical beliefs, especially on marriage and human sexuality, are ‘hate speech’ and therefore illegal.
“It is disturbing 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 in this country.
“I should have had a right to express my own Christian beliefs in my own private time and should not have been required to self-censor my beliefs or be forced out of my job.
“If my manifesto had been in support of same-sex marriage, would I have had the same response from my employer?
“The Bible simply does not condone same sex marriage. If you try and take the middle ground on this issue, as the Church of England has tried to do, you quickly become compromised. As a Christian party we are not in a popularity contest we are in a truth contest, and when it comes to truth, we always win.
“I will absolutely be standing again as mayoral candidate in 2024 in Lewisham. My message will not have changed. You can fire me, but you cannot silence me.”
Attack on democracy
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Maureen is a courageous woman treated appallingly for having the guts to declare her belief that marriage between a man and a woman is best for children and our society.
“For speaking about a positive vision of life and marriage as a building block for the good of our society she was silenced and de-platformed in the political space for boldly speaking about her faith in Jesus.
“We had never seen a case like this which sent a crushing message to anyone who believes in Christian marriage and wishes to express those beliefs at work or in public office.
“LGBT ideology fuelled by Stonewall activists has captured institutions to such an extent that free speech and Christian freedoms have been intimidated into silence.
“No Christian political candidate must face such treatment again.”
Find out more about Maureen Martin