Manchester: Christian equal marriage Facebook case begins

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A Christian man in Manchester who was demoted after questioning the merits of religious same-sex marriages on his private Facebook page has taken his employer to court.

Adrian Smith lost his managerial position and had his salary cut by 40% by Trafford Housing Trust after he commented in an online discussion about gay couples marrying in church by saying it was “an equality too far” in February 2011.

According to the Huffington Post, when asked by a colleague on what he meant, Mr Smith posted:

“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.”

Trafford Housing Trust was alerted to the comments, and took disciplinary action against Mr Smith.

He was found guilty of gross misconduct and was demoted to the role of money support advisor, with his salary dropping from £35,000 to £21,000.

In October 2011, human rights campaigner 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.

Mr Tatchell also dismissed the notion that Mr Smith’s views could be considered homophobic and said his position on religious organisations being allowed to opt-out of same-sex ceremonies was in line with government policy.

A claim made against Trafford Housing Trust for breach of his human rights was dismissed by a judge in March this year.