Feb 2008 - Religion & Sexuality Discrimination
In 2007 the claimant applied for a job as a youth worker with the church and declared his homosexuality at the point of application. All candidates were asked at interview specific questions about whether or not they complied with guidance from the church, which states that the church does not permit either heterosexual or homosexual behaviour outside marriage
Following interview, the panel unanimously recommended the claimant for the post – however, the bishop’s approval was needed for confirmation of the appointment.
The claimant therefore has a further meeting with the bishop, who asked him questions about his celibacy and his possible future relationships.
Despite the claimant’s assurances the bishop decided that the claimant would not keep his promises of celibacy and the post was offered to another applicant. The claimant brought proceedings for discrimination on the grounds of his sexuality, by way of both harassment and less favourable treatment.
The tribunal rejected the church’s argument that any other person would have been treated in the same way over their sexuality and found that another person would not have been disbelieved as the claimant was.
While the job was for the purposes of an organised religion and the consideration of celibacy outside marriage was in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of England, the tribunal felt that it was not reasonable to expect cast-iron guarantees for the future. It was therefore unreasonable for the bishop not to be satisfied that the claimant met the requirement and so discrimination on the grounds of less favourable treatment had occurred
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