Bristol counsellor in gay couples' sex therapy Relate row loses appeal
A Christian relationship counsellor from Bristol who lost his job after refusing to provide sex therapy to gay couples has failed in a further attempt to prove religious discrimination by his former employers.
Gary McFarlane, 48, a former elder in a church in Hanham, lost his fight at the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in London to prove discrimination by the relationship charity Relate.
His appeal was launched after an employment tribunal ruled in January that he had been wrongfully dismissed by Relate in March last year but had not been a victim of religious discrimination or unfair dismissal.
He was supported in his appeal by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) who said a further appeal would be lodged against the decision.
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Mr McFarlane said: "This decision is a stark warning to people of conscience in this nation that as a result of 12 years of Labour rule, the British establishment no longer values the democratic rights of its citizens to hold conscience as a matter of principle.
"Society is the worse for not allowing people of conscience to be free to exercise legitimate rights."
Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the CLC, said: "The seriously worrying underlying point in this case, which the court has refused to accept, is that for religious belief to be protected it is necessary to uphold the right to manifest that belief.
"The effect of this judgment is to rule out any expression of deeply-held conscience, even when the expression is limited to a very reasonable, practicable and sensible request to be assigned work such that worker and client are best served and that the work is tenable for the worker."
The ruling comes after Islington Council won an appeal last year against a ruling that it unlawfully discriminated against Christian registrar Lillian Ladele who refused to perform same-sex civil partnerships.
A judgment in an appeal to the Court of Appeal by Ms Ladele has been reserved.