Gay man wins £37,000 discrimination case against church

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A 25-year-old man who was teased and humiliated for being gay has won a substantial payout from his employers, the Presbyterian Church of Wales.

Stephen Price’s ordeal began almost as soon as he began working at the Coleg Trefeca centre with, 40-year-old Mair Jones, his manager.

The 37-bed retreat in Brecon is used by church groups from across the country.

“I was bullied consistently for no other reason than my sexuality, daily having to put up with either being referred to as a poof or having her (Ms Jones) talk of homosexuality or sex,” Mr Price told the tribunal.

“I was and still am shocked to have been referred to as a poof. I am very proud of both my faith and my sexual orientation.”

The tribunal awarded Mr Price £11,924 for constructive dismissal and £25,000 for injury to his feelings, and said it accepted his testimony about Ms Jones’ conduct.

Employment Judge Dr Rachel Davies said:

“He started as a cheerful and enthusiastic young man and there is no evidence of a vindictive side to his nature nor that his claims were fabricated.

“Mair Jones treated him less favourably than if he were a heterosexual man. She subjected him to considerable harassment.”

“We are satisfied this came within the most serious category.

“We have found that Mr Price suffered grotesquely discriminatory conduct on the part of Mair Jones for 10 weeks followed by seriously incompetent discrimination on the part of the church.”

The Presbyterian Church of Wales, which owns the Coleg Trefeca centre, had denied Mr Price’s claims of constructive dismissal, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and sexual harassment.

“We are delighted by the employment tribunal’s decision to uphold Stephen’s case,” said Federico Podeschi, managing director of the LGBT Excellence Centre Wales.

“Stephen, as well as many other service users of our helpline, is a clear example of how you can still be discriminated against simply for being gay.

“This case particularly showed that, regardless of whether people want to come out or not, simply ignoring that people can be gay, lesbian, or bisexual, as well as heterosexual, is not acceptable.

“It also shows that once a grievance is raised, employers have a responsibility to investigate it as a potential case of unlawful discrimination or harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation.

“The Presbyterian Church of Wales failed to both acknowledge Stephen’s claim and to investigate his allegations accurately.

“This should be a reminder that people can still carry prejudice and bias regardless of having a religious background or faith.

“Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is unlawful and must be addressed. It is as simple as that.”