Exclusive: Man fired from Christian radio station for revealing he was gay

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A gay man who was fired after six years of volunteering at a Christian radio station lost his job because he revealed his sexuality.

Ian Carrington, who describes himself as a Christian, had volunteered at Refresh FM in Manchester as a producer and radio presenter since 2003.

The radio station is on a Restricted Service Licence, which is usually given to stations which serve a specific community or cover a certain event.

It is run by the Victoria Park Fellowship, an evangelical church in the city, and broadcasts for 28 days a year.

Carrington told PinkNews.co.uk he knew there could be some controversy over his decision to come out but said he wanted to be honest about his situation.

He said: “I came out to friends in 1993 or 1994, and then publicly in 1998. It’s not something I’m necessarily naive about as I’ve been through it before.

“But I was growing increasingly uncomfortable and I needed to keep my integrity. I said, ‘I realise you might have a problem with this, but I’m gay’.”

Carrington said he was then told by members of a steering committee for the radio station that he could no longer be a presenter because being a “practising homosexual” meant he was “living in a state of active sin”.

The committee also told him that the church could face difficulties in raising funds if audiences were offended by his sexuality.

He said that he felt that his colleagues at the station were friends but the loss of his volunteering job is “devastating and hurtful”.

He says he now hopes to gain some legal redress to show that employees, even those who are unpaid, should not be dismissed on the grounds of their sexuality.

Carrington has been told by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that as an unpaid worker without a contract, he is unlikely to be protected under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.

However, Mark Nolan, a solicitor from Russell Jones & Walker who specialises in discrimination and unfair dismissal law, believes that the fact Carrington did not have a contract is irrelevant.

“There’s no legal reason under European law why an unpaid voluntary worker should be denied rights given to paid colleagues when it comes to protection from discriminatory treatment. Employment law does protect religious beliefs but not at the expense of the gay community. It is another example of a misguided employer going too far.

“If it can be established that he was a worker, and I think it can be, then he is covered by employment law and is entitled to a solution at the Employment Tribunal. A contract is irrelevant.”

Carrington worked on a shift pattern for one month each of the six years he was employed and was required to give an hour’s notice if he was unable to come in for his shift.

He said: “Maybe I was naive, or maybe blindly optimistic, but my view is that God loves me.

“People do change their views but I’m not a theologian. I can’t change [the station’s] views but they need to know that beliefs have consequences.

“It’s pointless, it’s cruel and Jesus wouldn’t do it.”

Victoria Park Fellowship and Refresh FM have not responded to repeated calls and emails for comment.