Christian housing manager demoted for Facebook comments on gay marriage

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A Christian housing manager has been demoted for questioning gay religious marriage on his Facebook page.

Adrian Smith, 54, who works at the Trafford Housing Trust, made the remarks on his private Facebook page.

Commenting on a news story about gay marriages in church, Mr Smith, who attends an evangelical church, wrote: “An equality too far.”

The next day, when asked by a friend if he disapproved of the move, he added: “No, not really. I don’t understand why people who 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 marriages 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.”

A colleague then reported him to the housing trust’s equality and diversity head Helen Malone.

After a disciplinary hearing, Mr Smith was found guilty of gross misconduct. He was demoted to the role of money support advisor and his salary dropped from £35,000 to £21,000.

His solicitor, Tom Ellis of Manchester-based law firm Aughton Ainsworth, told the Manchester Evening News: “Most people recognise this was totally disproportionate and an excessive reaction by the trust. He made what were fairly mild comments after he was asked his opinion.

“It just seems undemocratic and incredible he can lose his job for comments like that. Even people who disagree with him would probably feel that way as well.”

Trafford Housing Trust says it stands by its decision.

David Barrow, commercial director of the trust, said it “has an equal opportunities policy and Mr Smith’s comments on Facebook, where he identified himself as a Trust employee, went against this policy”.

He added: “We expect employees at all levels to act respectfully. This applies in person and on social media.”

Mr Smith, who is being assisted by the Christian Institute, now plans to sue for lost wages and will claim his human rights have been breached.