Trust which demoted Christian housing manager feared loss of gay award

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The housing trust which demoted Christian employee Adrian Smith was scared of losing its award from the Albert Kennedy Trust, it has emerged.

Mr Smith was forced to accept a more junior position, and had his pay cut by £14,000 a year, after calling religious ceremonies for gay couples “an equality too far” on his personal Facebook page.

His employer, the Trafford Housing Trust, found him guilty of misconduct but the severity of the punishment provoked criticism from several areas.

Last week, Peter Tatchell said the trust’s actions were “excessive and disproportionate” and it should have simply warned Mr Smith about identifying himself as an employee online.

He said: “The trust was acting with good intentions in a bid to ensure equal opportunities, non-discrimination and inclusive service provision. Although its commitment to equality for lesbian and gay people is commendable, its response to Mr Smith’s remarks is excessive and disproportionate.”

But it has now emerged that, when Mr Smith appealed the decision, he was told by his employer that the behaviour he exhibited could have jeopardised the “quality mark” the organisation had received the Albert Kennedy Trust.

The housing organisation’s commercial director David Barrow said Mr Smith’s Facebook comments had been distressing to colleagues and “had the potential to seriously undermine the Albert Kennedy Accreditation, which we were proud to receive last year”.

He said: “It is clear that your comments did have the potential to bring the trust into disrepute.”

The awards were launched to recognise supportive housing trusts as part of the charity’s remit of helping LGBT young people who are homeless or in hostile domestic environments.

Trafford Housing Trust said it had “achieved the highest score so far achieved by any organisation”.

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.”