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London's Top Court Rules for Christian Punished by Employer for Anti-Gay Remarks on Facebook: VIDEO

Smith

London's High Court has ruled for Adrian Smith, a worker at Trafford Housing Trust in Manchester, who was punished for anti-gay comments he wrote on Facebook.

AFP reports:

Smith lost his managerial status, had his salary cut by 40 percent and was handed a final written warning after posting on Facebook that gay weddings in churches were "an equality too far" and following up with other comments.

Although the remarks were not visible to the public and were posted outside work time, Trafford Housing Trust said Smith had broken its code of conduct by voicing religious or political views that could upset his colleagues. Judge Michael Briggs ruled that the trust had no right to demote Smith and had breached its contract with him, while the Facebook posts did not constitute misconduct.

Smith was awarded less than £100 in damages but the judge said he could have won far more if he had launched proceedings for unfair dismissal at the employment tribunal.

Smith's follow-up comments on Facebook were: "I don't understand why people who have no faith and don't believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church. The Bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women. If the state wants to offer civil marriage to the same sex then that is up to the state; but the state shouldn't impose its rules on places of faith and conscience."

Watch the BBC's report and a press conference with Smith, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. I actually agree with the ruling. His Facebook was set to private. If it had been public, it could reflect on the company (assuming his company was listed on his page), but a private page should be private.

    Also, what he said was pretty mild compared to what some people post.

    Posted by: Cris | Nov 16, 2012 10:07:03 AM


  2. "London's top court"????????????????????
    Ummm... London doesn't have a "top" court. It's the High Court of England and Wales, which is sitting in London. Also, judges in the more senior Court of Appeal and Supreme Court (ex House of Lords) might take umbrage at a lower court being described as a "top" anything.
    Theoretically, Trafford Council could appeal against the decision, but it's unlikely they'd win. And many gay commentators in the UK seem to think that the court made the right decision, anyway.

    Posted by: dazzer | Nov 16, 2012 10:14:12 AM


  3. I think what he said is rather fair and reasonable. If a specific church doesn't want you to get married then they shouldn't be forced to.

    Posted by: Greg | Nov 16, 2012 10:18:28 AM


  4. @Greg He also did a whole rant on the "importance of traditional marriage" and warning about the costs of Marriage Equality.

    Posted by: Chris | Nov 16, 2012 10:25:07 AM


  5. Yeah, he's an ignorant @$$, but...I'd hate to think that I could be fired or demoted if I said something offensive on my personal FB account outside of work. Jerkfaces deserve the same rights as we do, I guess...

    Posted by: Lucas H | Nov 16, 2012 10:35:58 AM


  6. While I would hate to be punished at work for what is on my Facebook, it is good to see that with all the romanticizing that we Americans can do about the Brits (Kate, Will, Winston, et al) that we are reminded that they have their own ignorant people as well.

    Posted by: Jim | Nov 16, 2012 10:40:14 AM


  7. It's better to let people make their assy remarks so others can see them instead of letting them fester in whispers. Private communications are distinct from those that might be seen as representing an official/public entity, whether a business or government. There are legitimate limits to utterances in speech or writing but the employer here went beyond them, as some in the USA do time to time.

    Posted by: gregory brown | Nov 16, 2012 10:40:15 AM


  8. Yeah, I don't get why gays would want to get married in churches either. Personally, I hope I never set foot in a church ever again. C'mon gays, find somewhere else to get married.

    Posted by: Luke | Nov 16, 2012 11:14:53 AM


  9. So he's gone and libeled the government and gay community by saying that churches could be forced to accommodate weddings outside their communion, gone on to post other positions overtly hostile to the council's clients and his coworkers; and then somehow it isn't a libelous falsehood or an HR issue?

    To say "the state shouldn't impose its rules on places of faith and conscience" is clearly deceptive, and obviously certain politico-religious interests have learnt nothing from their child abuse facilitation, coverups and soon to be scandals relating to diversion of funds to lobbying.

    Needless to say the 'private' setting would appear to denote public speech if it's gone this far. Grrrr.

    Posted by: rdiac | Nov 16, 2012 11:21:06 AM


  10. I'm not a lawyer. I would hope one who reads this feed could offer a brief statement on employment law in the US regarding private postings on Facebook &c. I have heard about employers asking for the passwords to these accounts as part of the hiring process. I believe that has been ruled unacceptable, but have heard that an employer must be allowed to be a friend. Help!

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Nov 16, 2012 11:41:01 AM


  11. Question for our British friends. Can the government force a church to marry a couple that goes against the church's religious values? IE an inter-faith couple, or a divorced couple?

    If not, then why all the ruckus about gay couples? It seems the same rules apply to marrying gay couples as any other couple. If there is a religious objection (inter-faith, divorced, gay etc) then the church gets to opt out. Seems simple to me, but then what do I know.

    Posted by: Howard | Nov 16, 2012 12:12:21 PM


  12. Question for our British friends. Can the government force a church to marry a couple that goes against the church's religious values? IE an inter-faith couple, or a divorced couple?

    If not, then why all the ruckus about gay couples? It seems the same rules apply to marrying gay couples as any other couple. If there is a religious objection (inter-faith, divorced, gay etc) then the church gets to opt out. Seems simple to me, but then what do I know.

    Posted by: Howard | Nov 16, 2012 12:12:22 PM


  13. Thanks Howard, I was wondering the same thing.

    Also, since when do companies have the right to demand access to my personal bloggs, Facebook, etc? Unlike some, I don't collect friends just to get high numbers. My FB is private and for friends and family only. The company gets me for a limited number of hours, not for around the clock surveillance. They may connect with me on LinkedIn however as that is an appropriate space. I had one co-worker (who was a Swinger) try to contact my brother (for dubious reasons) on FB because I had my page set to public. Imagine if it had been my Boss.

    Posted by: Devin | Nov 16, 2012 12:40:44 PM


  14. There aren't enough details here for me to be sure, but...I can't imagine this guy thinks the UK government would make all churches perform same-sex marriage ceremonies; he may be worried that the Established Church at some point would have to, which is the situation in Denmark (although individual priests can opt out) Since the U.S. has no state church, the issue here is (obviously) very different.

    Posted by: Booker | Nov 16, 2012 3:26:31 PM


  15. Howard, theoretically Parliament could pass a law forcing churches to marry couples. There's no law anything like that on the statute books and I can't foresee one ever being there. In fact, I suspect it would fall foul of the Human Rights legislation (the right to religious beliefs)and never see the light of day - should anyone ever propose it.

    The opponents of equal marriage in the UK use the selfsame Human Rights legislation to create an entirely false panic that somehow churches will be forced to officiate at gay weddings.

    Essentially, the objections of the religions that oppose equal marriage amount to barely covered homophobia and general bigotry (I'm using both perjorative words with consideration - they are accurate and appropriate in this context).

    Howard, it IS simple. Also, already you probably know more than most UK opponents to equality.

    Posted by: dazzer | Nov 16, 2012 3:34:23 PM


  16. Video would not play for me.

    You can view it at the source:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-20357131

    Posted by: Randy | Nov 16, 2012 3:43:26 PM


  17. The UK is a backwards sh1thole anyway, so who cares? They're not nearly as laid back as people think they are.

    Posted by: Pathetic | Nov 17, 2012 1:00:13 PM


  18. It seems that the Court got it right.

    Posted by: andrew | Nov 17, 2012 5:41:16 PM


  19. I'm gay, but I agree with the court's ruling. Even a bigot is entitled to free speech. What he says in a private forum is nothing to do with his employer.

    Posted by: Linda | Nov 28, 2012 4:47:56 PM


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