Homophobia trumps duty on a Yorkshire bus

A CHRISTIAN bus driver, who allowed his hatred of gays to eclipse his sense of duty, left passengers stranded for around 20 minutes because his bus bore a Stonewall ad that said:

Some people are gay. Get over it!

According to this report, the unnamed driver would not operate the  X78 from Rotherham to Sheffield.

Among those stranded on the bus was Rebecca Neill, 25, from Herringthorpe, South Yorkshire.

She said:

There were quite a few passengers arguing with the imbecile, and several drivers as well. Someone was shouting at him: ‘You can’t do that, it’s disgusting.’

Then another driver got on and explained what was going on. He apologised and said that the poster wasn’t acceptable to this Christian, but that he didn’t agree with what the guy was doing.

Eventually, the next X78 service arrived and its driver swapped buses with the silly zealot.

In response to the incident, Stonewall’s Information Officer Louise Kelly said:

Passengers in Rotherham can rightly expect bus drivers to do the job they pay them to do – drive buses. If they are unwilling to, perhaps they should look for another job.

A spokesman for bus operator First Group said:

We are aware of an incident involving one of our drivers refusing to drive a bus at Rotherham Interchange. We have spoken to the driver in question and the matter has now been resolved. We would like to apologise to any customers that were affected during this isolated incident.

Stonewall’s “Some people are gay. Get over it!” adverts were placed on around 1,000 buses in London earlier this year.

However, the decision was met with criticism by religious anti-gay protesters, who concocted an alternative which read: “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” on a smaller number of buses. But their campaign failed when London Mayor Boris Johnson kicked it into the long grass.

Adrian Smith

Meanwhile, gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has reportedly welcomed a High Court ruling in favour of a Christian worker who was demoted and had his salary slashed for a comment he wrote on Facebook about equal marriage.

In a statement, Tatchell said:

This is a victory for free speech and fair play. Although Adrian Smith opposed religious same-sex marriages, he supported the right of gay couples to get married in a civil ceremony in a register office.

He is entitled to his view and should never have been demoted. I am glad that my statement in support of Adrian was used in his legal case and that he has been vindicated.

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

On Friday, the 55-year-old won a breach of contract case against Trafford Housing Trust at the High Court in London.

Smith’s damages payout was limited to £100 because of legal technicalities.

He said:

I didn’t do this for the money – I did this because there is an important principle at stake.

In a statement, Mr Smith also criticised the government’s desire to introduce marriage rights for gay couples and said:

I have won today. But what will tomorrow bring? I am fearful that, if marriage is redefined, there will be more cases like mine – and if the law of marriage changes people like me may not win in court.

He added:

Does the Prime Minister want to create a society where people like me, people who believe in traditional marriage, are treated as outcasts?

The Christian Institute, the anti-gay group that paid for Mr Smith’s legal case, welcomed the ruling.

According to Sky News, spokesman Mike Judge said:

This is a good day for free speech. But would Adrian have won his case if marriage had already been redefined? I don’t think so. The government should stop playing politics with marriage, because it’s ordinary people like Adrian who’ll get it in the neck.

Matthew Gardiner, chief executive at Trafford Housing Trust, said:

We fully accept the court’s decision and I have made a full and sincere apology to Adrian.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn


28 responses to “Homophobia trumps duty on a Yorkshire bus”

  1. Lazy Susan says:

    Right verdict. Adrian has a right to peacefully express his opinion. He was still doing his job.

  2. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    If someone is against gay marriage, then I support their right to say that. I don’t agree with them but they have the right to put forward their point of view, just as I have the right to put forward mine.

    What people don’t have the right to do is to incite violence. Mr Smith didn’t do that so I believe that the right verdict has been reached.

    Re:The bus ad. If the driver doesn’t want to drive a bus, he can get another job. It’s not up to him to decide what is acceptable as advertising. In this case he is another religious nut job demanding a special privilege for his religion.

  3. Stonyground says:

    I’m sure that I am not alone in finding this trend of prosecuting people for expressing unpopular opinions very worrying. Maybe the John Stuart Mill essays about liberty and free speech should be made part of the national curriculum.

    Sorry to be OT but over at the Dixie Flatline, Daz has hooked a Christian commenter who is totally out of his depth. Those who enjoy bloodsports might want to pop over and take a look.

  4. Barry Duke says:

    Thanks Stonyground, I broke off from watching Jean-Claude van Damme in a very violent karate movie on Spanish TV to read this and – you know something? – Daz’s piece satisfied my Saturday night blood lust a great deal more. Here’s the link:

  5. remigius says:

    Yep. I’m with Tatchell on this one. Smith’s employers overreacted.

    And as for ‘…Saturday night blood lust’, I thought it was still Friday in Spain. I’ll have whatever Barry’s drinking!

  6. Broga says:

    Peter Tatchell’s action was very much to his credit. As an atheist I am repelled by a common religious attitude that they are in favour of free speech as long as they agree with what is being said. Free speech is free speech and that includes comments that I find repellent.

  7. JohnMWhite says:

    Obviously the correct decision was reached in the High Court, but I cannot help but find it odious scaremongering and bad faith from the victors that they insist the decision likely would have been different if marriage had been ‘redefined’. That’s completely irrelevant to whether or not an employer has the right to punish an employee for saying something on Facebook, and it is a childish and cowardly tactic to pretend that allowing gay people to get married will unleash a 1984-style thought police on poor, innocent bigots. At best it’s a non sequitur.

    First’s response to the bus situation isn’t exactly brilliant either. “Oh yeah, one of our employees is a total homophobe who might have wrecked your travel plans, but we’ve had a quiet word with him so no harm done, right?”. Somehow I don’t see the Christian Institute moaning that poor, innocent travellers were punished because a driver didn’t like what was written on his bus.

  8. Barry Duke says:

    Damn, Remigius, you’re right. It IS Friday, but the last seven days has been given over to an overblown fiesta in my neck of the woods that’s left no-one knowing what day of the week it is. And with continuous fireworks the dogs are convinced we’ve relocated to Syria.

    Oh, and it’s vodka ‘n orange …

  9. Barry Duke says:

    Half and half – lotsa OJ!

  10. remigius says:

    I’m on Jack & ginger. Half and half. Chinchin.

  11. Barry Duke says:

    See you in rehab!

  12. barriejohn says:

    Bit mean of them to make him a rent boy, wasn’t it?

  13. barriejohn says:

    JMW: I am finding it really difficult to sympathize with Smith, who is an obnoxious bigot. This is what he said:

    I don’t understand why people who have no faith and don’t believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church.

    WHAT? I don’t understand that either, but I am appalled at the implication that vile sodomists cannot possibly be Christians. I have a gay friend who would have dearly loved to have married his late partner in Chichester Cathedral, where they both worshipped and were very active, and where his partner was an official for many years. The stench of hypocrisy is nauseating – oh, sorry, we’re talking about the religious again, aren’t we?

  14. tony e says:

    Tatchell showed a grace that I think would have been absent if the shoe was on the other foot.

  15. Matt Westwood says:

    That dixie flatliner blog. Yeah. Fish: barrel: bang.

  16. Matt Westwood says:

    @Barry and Remigus: Dammit I forgot it was Friday! I had a bottle of beer with my metaphorical name on it! Fucknuts!

  17. Matt Westwood says:

    I wonder how many xtians refuse to *ride* on buses with slogans on them with which they disagree?

    “Ooh no, I won’t get on that one, it’s advertising a Monty Python movie. Oh dear me, I think I’ll wait for the next one as well, that’s got a picture of a woman in her underwear on it. Oh my goodness, that one’s worse – it’s got a Darwinist slogan on it! Perhaps God wants me to walk. Yes, that’s it – God has given me the opportunity to take some exercise!”

  18. remigius says:

    ‘I had a bottle of beer with my metaphorical name on it!’


  19. Matt Westwood says:

    @rem: Wonderful! Want some! (*sigh*) have to be another day.

  20. remigius says:

    Oh, I’ve had plenty. Thank you very muchly.

  21. the Woggler says:

    Quite agree about the Smith verdict. But why is gay marriage a threat to ‘traditional’ marriage? These people are allowed to get away with bold statements but seemingly never asked to back them up with cold, hard facts.

  22. barriejohn says:

    I’m still not convinced about this case. Surely, it’s not a question of his “right to free speech”, but whether he is fit to do his job? Not knowing his precise responsibilities, I wouldn’t like to comment further on that. In any case, there are thousands of people, especially in the police and armed forces, who realize that they are not always free to say what they think on certain matters. I don’t see him as a martyr here.

  23. Daz says:

    Ah, a puzzle solved! I wondered where the sudden surge of page-hits was coming from! Thanks, Barry, Stonyground, et al.

    Back on topic, I have to agree with tony e. Were the boot on the other foot, they’d likely be much less ready to defend freedom of speech. Which would kinda say summat about so-called “god-given morals,” wouldn’t it.

  24. David Anderson says:

    Oh yes traditional marriage. Isn’t it amazing how the fact that if two people of the same gender are married it will effect other people? Yet the fact that many traditional marriages involve infidelity, divorce, violence and who knows what else doesn’t have any effect.

    I have never understood why gay people would want to be involved with any Abrahamic religion. Perhaps they should found their own church, say, The Reform Church of The Godly Gay.

  25. Stephen Mynett says:

    Smith is a bigot but he has every right to say what he wants, although, as many others had said, I cannot see how allowing gay marriage is going to effect the marriages of others.
    The more worrying case here is the bus driver. The rabid religionists either do not, or do not want, to understand the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of actions. The bus driver was contracted to do his job, drive the bus, and by failing to do so should be disciplined. Unfortunately we have several reactionary religious groups who are happy to stir up trouble and waste money, sometimes ours, on needless court cases and tribunuals.
    Put simply, the driver refused to do the job he was paid to and there is no excuse. However, to the religious extremists, he has every right because they feel they do not have to obey the same laws as the rest of us.
    A prime example of this is the nurse Chaplain who whinged on about being banned from wearing her cross. The basic flaw in her argument was she was not banned from wearing it, just told to wear it inside her uniform.
    The reasoning for this was simple and correct and as someone who has spent a large amount of my life in hospitals I know a little about their workings. From the perspective of the nurse, any form of necklace is dangerous, even non-violent patients can lash out, especially with bad reactions to some drugs, and having a necklace grabbed and ripped off can cause severe injury to the nurse. It is an obvious and a sensible precaution, not a case of health and safety going mad.
    Secondly, any form of jewelry that dangles down can make contact with a variety of things unnoticed. After changing a dressing on one patient a nurse will clean/sterilise their hands but not their jewelry. The jewelry may only carry a minimal risk of aiding cross-infection (sorry about the bad pun) but the risk is high enough that it should be avoided.
    Chaplain continued to bleat that her rights were being denied yet she could still have worn the cross inside her uniform. Perhaps she thought that as it was a religious symbol it was not possible for germs/bacteria to travel on it.

  26. Matt Westwood says:

    @Daz: It’s been fun.

  27. Lazy Susan says:

    David Anderson – I don’t often get the chance to be pedantic and witty (if not actually funny) at the same time, but you have given me the opportunity.

    “Oh yes traditional marriage. Isn’t it amazing how the fact that if two people of the same gender are married it will effect other people?”

    No, it’s people of opposite genders that effect other people. People of the same gender only affect others.

  28. Lucy says:

    @lazy susan

    Hee hee