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Tribunal: ‘Bible-based homophobia is OK’

Tribunal: ‘Bible-based homophobia is OK’

An employment tribunal in the UK has ruled in favour of Sarah Mbuyi, 31, above, a ‘born-again’ Christian nursery worker who was sacked after airing her views on homosexuality and marriage to a lesbian colleague.

Mbuyi’s case was heard by a tribunal in Watford, which – according to this report – found that her attitude towards gays was:

Worthy of respect in a democratic society, is not incompatible with human dignity and is not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

It further ruled that Newpark Childcare’s policy of prohibiting employees from “expressing adverse views on homosexuality and/or describing homosexuality as a sin” would have a “disparate impact on Christians holding similar views to Miss Mbuyi on the biblical teachings on practising homosexuality.”

That is not merely because a significantly higher proportion of Christians would hold such views but also because many evangelical Christians feel their faith compels them to share it.

The tribunal recognised that while the employer was “not anti-Christian”,  Mbuyi had not been treated fairly and that the decision to sack her may have been made on:

Stereotypical assumptions about her and her beliefs.

The tribunal found that Mbuyi’s colleague had clearly brought up her sexuality in conversation with Mbuyi first, and there was little or no evidence to suggest Mbuyi targeted the woman in an attempt to force her faith on her.

andrea

This case was a rare win for the Christian Legal Centre, which had supported Mbuyi. Andrea Minichiello Williams, above, barrister and Chief Executive of the CLC, said:

This is a brave judgment and comes as a great relief to Miss Mbuyi and to all of us at the Christian Legal Centre.

This is a ‘common sense’ judgment which shows understanding of the Christian faith and Miss Mbuyi’s freedom to live and speak it out in the work place.

We have been in the employment courts for over a decade now and at last we have a sensible decision.

Mbuyi is now working as a nanny elsewhere. She spoke of her relief at the outcome, saying:

I only ever responded to questions that my colleague asked me and wanted the very best for her. I give glory to God for the decision and say ‘well done’ to the Christian Legal Centre.

Tiffany Clutterbuck, a director of Newpark Childcare, was disappointed by the ruling, saying:

We have robust policies and rules to ensure our nursery is inclusive and supportive for our children and staff and we took the decision to dismiss Miss Mbuyi with a view to protecting that culture.

However, the tribunal found Miss Mbuyi’s actions were not harassment of a gay colleague and that she was entitled to express her religious beliefs in the workplace in the context of the conversation which took place. Our priority will always be to provide an environment where every child feels like he or she belongs.

Hat tip: AgentCormac

18 responses to “Tribunal: ‘Bible-based homophobia is OK’”

  1. Angelo Ventura says:

    No. homophobia based on a myuthological book is NOT OK!

  2. barriejohn says:

    The NSS were broadly in agreement with this verdict, but I’m not so sure that I see eye to eye with them. I do agree that Williams’ constant bleating about “anti-Christian discrimination” has been shown to be total cobblers again.

    Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “This was not a case of Christianophobia which the Christian Legal Centre is so intent on insisting is widespread. The judgment stated: “None of the claimants treatment was because she was a Christian”. This case therefore throws a spanner in the works of the Christian Legal Centre’s narrative that Christians are not protected from discrimination at work, particularly when they come into conflict with gay people. It shows that the equality laws are working properly and that Christians that have a genuine grievance (rather than the hair-trigger persecution narrative that the Christian Legal Centre usually deals in) will be treated justly by the law.

    “Although we think the tribunal came to the right decision in this case, it does illustrate that when people try to evangelise in the workplace it can so easily lead to conflict with colleagues. It is significant that Ms Mbuyi was thought by some fellow employees to be too ready to “look for opportunities to share her faith when she felt she was being invited to do so”.

    “Andrea Minichielo Williams of the Christian Legal Centre thinks Christians should have the right to disregard workplace rules simply because they have a strong faith. But some people get angry or distressed when zealous colleagues subject them to religious pressure. This was illustrated clearly by the recent case of Victoria Wasteney.

    “It is now time for the Christian Legal Centre to admit that the equality law is fair to Christians. It should restrict the cases it brings to those that have genuine merit and involve real discrimination.”

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2015/06/tribunal-finds-that-christian-nursery-worker-was-victim-of-religious-discrimination

  3. Ivan says:

    Let’s suppose I approached her in the workplace and said that as a woman, what is she even doing at work? Should she not be minding her home?

    What about I told her she clearly had the Curse of Ham upon her or that I should by rights be able to keep her as a slave?

    And what if I felt entitled to ask if she were on her period in order that I could determine if she were unclean?

    Would she or the Tribunal regard these views as worthy of respect in a democratic society and not incompatible with human dignity or in conflict with the fundamental rights of others?

  4. L.Long says:

    Sorry but FIRMLY HELD BELIEFS in a LIE!!!! Are NOT worthy of respect.
    She should have her ass FIRED!!!!
    As an atheist I have no problem keeping my views to myself when at work or anywhere else until my opinion is asked for, you dimwitted Ahole religious BIGOT!!!! She is the reason many talk about the evil religion DOES!!!!
    And the tribunal is nothing less then an evil enabler!!
    I firmly believe the tribunal members are all men rapist!! Does that mean you have to respect my firmly held belief when I state it as fact to the public???? The tribunal are all made up of Ahole hypocrites!! And the CLC are just evil trolls.

  5. Stuart H. says:

    Unless she’s working for some church outfit, I’m surprised she’s still working as a nanny, though not surprised her current employer wouldn’t want to be named. What childcare organisation wants a reputation for employing superstitious freaks?

  6. Angela_K says:

    Mbuyi only won on a technicality due to the “disproportionate” response of her employers.

    What would happen if the person who was told that “god isn’t OK with homosexuality” replies [as I would] there is no god so F. O. you religious nutter?

  7. AgentCormac says:

    I’m sure the outcome is indeed a great relief to Andrea Minichiello Williams who, to borrow Jose Mourinho’s words about Arsne Wenger, has long proved herself to be ‘A specialist in failure’.

    If you watch the interview you’ll discover that Mbuyi clearly gets emails or phone calls from her god every day of the week, as she seems to have an exceptional understanding of what her imaginary friend does and doesn’t like or approve of.

  8. Nicholas J Cleere says:

    I’m sorry but this lady was baited by the gay woman. I am an atheist but I fully understand people of faith have beliefs based on scripture and that is their code. This lady was asked by the gay woman if being gay was OK with God. Her answer was “No, but God still loves you” What is wrong with that? She was just repeating the doctrine. It’s one thing being an atheist but quite another being a bloody Nazi over someone’s treasured beliefs.

  9. Hmmm. This is a difficult one for atheists who are of a libertarian and progressive outlook. On the one hand, it is important that one can express views which others may find offensive (after all, many would find outspoken atheist or pro-gay views offensive in the workplace). Labour’s Harriet Harman wanted to introduce a Stasi-like law that would require people to report colleagues in the workplace who voiced opinions that could be deemed racist. However deplorable racism may be, reporting such comments to a disciplinary panel would be a step too far in a free country. On the other hand, an atmosphere of muted racism or homophobia can be very intimidating and cause deep unhappiness and distress, so it has to be challenged. The knock-kneed NSS seems to have caved in remarkably quickly on this one. After all, if the gay woman had voiced similar opinions about this ethnic bible-basher, what would have happened to her?

  10. Brummie says:

    A storm in a teacup. It should never have come to a tribunal. Freedom of speech is paramount.

  11. Vanity Unfair says:

    From the Guardian article:
    “The tribunal found that Mbuyi’s colleague had clearly indicated that she had first expressly brought up her sexuality in conversation with Mbuyi and there was little or no evidence to suggest Mbuyi targeted her colleague in an attempt to force her faith on her.”

    I think that settles it. Had Miss Mbuyi started the exchange by challenging her unnamed (There is a permanent anonymity order in place in relation to **. Why?) colleague’s sexuality that would have clearly been wrong. However, as the exchange was started at the colleague’s incitement she was entitled to present her view and justification therefor. My reading of the judgment: https://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/mbuyi-et-judgment.pdf leads me to think there might be a hidden agenda.

    The CLC’s jubilation is unwarranted. “We have been in the employment courts for over a decade now and at last we have a sensible decision.” Leaving aside the view that they have had over a decade’s worth of sensible decisions, the tribunal specifically states at 120:
    120. None of the claimant’s treatment was because she was a Christian. The claimant [Mbuyi] was open about her faith and colleagues and the respondent were aware of it at all material times. The respondent was not anti-Christian.

    The tribunal, at 136 notes that Miss Mbuyi did not start the conversation and, indeed, goes further with a criticism of the employer:
    136. It is, perhaps, worth adding under this heading that were we hearing a complaint of harassment brought by ** arising out of the same facts we would not be able to uphold it on the facts considered at the disciplinary hearing. The law would fall into disrepute if an individual could ask a question, knowing the likely response and, on receiving it, however genuinely upset, claim it was unwanted contact and, hence harassment. Could they then repeat the exercise and claim again? It may have been unwelcome but on the facts of this case it could not be said to have been uninvited.

    This is amplified at 174:
    174. It was far from clear how TC [a director] got to a position of classifying this brief invitation for an opinion as targeted harassment. ** asking ‘if she would be welcome in church and if God is OK with what she is doing?’ and receiving a response that was along the lines of the claimant’s understanding of Christian teaching – you would be welcome but ‘God is not OK with what you do’

    Black marks all round for Newpark Childcare (Shepherds Bush) Ltd.
    There is still the chance of an appeal.
    Incidentally, could you find a less spontaneous photograph of Ms. Williams.
    I’m sure it is an unretouched, accurate and just photograph merely taken at an inopportune moment. However, when I have been photographed I have always hoped that justice would be tempered by mercy. You do seem attached to that one.

  12. jay says:

    I am bothered by ‘correct think’ aspect. People are entitled to opinions, as long as they express them in a civilized manner . You might not like their opinion, they might not like yours.

    Firing someone because her view is not politically correct is an insult to freedom.

  13. Cali Ron says:

    @vanity unfair: You mean Ms. Williams doesn’t always have that expression on her face? I thought it was just exasperation after losing so many cases.

    I’m OK with the ruling. I think it’s important to treat everyone equally, free to express their beliefs when appropriate or solicited, which in this case they seem to be. It being appropriate here, I’m expressing my belief that Ms. Williams is a seriously deluded and misinformed religious zealot fighting imaginary windmills for her imaginary god.

  14. JohnMWhite says:

    Personally, I think Ivan has it right regarding the wording of the tribunal’s findings – we all know full well it would not be ok for religiously-motivated expressions to be made about a lot of other things. None of those views would be worthy of respect, nor is any nonsense about god loving the sinner and hating the sin of being gay. But assuming the narrative is correct, and her colleague actually asked for an opinion, then you can’t fire someone for giving what was requested just because you don’t like it.

  15. melvin polatnick says:

    A month in a cell with two lesbians or homosexuals will have 90% of heterosexuals joining the party.No sexual activity should be outlawed, even adult rape can be tolerated if there are no bruises. Cops should not be policing sexual behavior. Let it all hang out including the beautiful penis.

  16. Barry Duke says:

    “No sexual activity should be outlawed, even adult rape can be tolerated if there are no bruises.”

    Have you ever been raped, Mr Polatnick?

  17. This is what I would say to that woman.

    There is blood on the hands of those who would refuse to support the monogamous love between two people of the same sex.  That hurts the depressed young gay person the most – many of whom end up as suicides. You don’t even care about the principle. For you lot, Jesus who took responsibility for writing the Old Testament through divinely inspired men has the last word.  He said that not a dot of it would pass away until God fulfilled it – meaning God fully approves of it. And you should be aware that it reports God as saying homosexuality is an abomination that must be purged from the midst of the people by stoning homosexuals to death.  And then we have Jesus himself indicating and authorising the apostles to preach with his authority that homosexuality is a mortal sin that will lead to everlasting exclusion from God in Hell. Jesus was to blame. Views like that are not tolerable. One can believe its wrong without going that far. Teaching that same sex sexual love-making is mortally sinful forces you to exaggerate any problems there could be. For example, you would argue that if it is okay then why not allow incest under certain conditions? You claim it is evil and it will lead to more evil which is why it is so bad. You have to look for excuses for condemning it for as many things as possible.  Please don’t pretend you do not hate. Violent scriptures should be rejected and disdained outright without excuse. A vote for Jesus is a vote for homophobia in the worst sense of the word even if you don’t know that he was a bigot. The Church by upholding a homophobic God and Son of God is guilty of at least leading the people into implicit or indirect homophobia.

    Don’t start this, “We treat LGBT people with compassion” crap.  Your compassion is patronising to LGBT people who don’t believe they are doing anything morally wrong for you think they are and you think it is seriously wrong and you know better. Your condescending compassion is repulsive. Your compassion as a Christian is primarily, “Okay the priority is having them respond to our understanding of God because they need repentance in case they go to Hell and that is infinitely bigger than any problem they may have”. That is not compassion but patronising religious bigotry. Do not deceive LGBT people with your compassion – I mean do not let them think it is because you primarily care about their life problems not the alleged danger of Hell.  If gay sex is wrong then it is wrong but do not try to make out it is more wrong than what it is. Do not make out that it is an insult to the infinite love of God and worthy of eternal damnation! Do not make out it is spiritual murder.

    You refer to Old Testament texts that condemn homosexuality. To use texts from violent scriptures even the non-violent texts implies that you are not very upset about the violence. You are treating the text as a source of authority – of a supernatural authority that supposedly knows better than we do. You are still honouring that text – if you were disgusted by the violence you would be looking elsewhere for an authority to condemn homosexuality.

    You are a bigot!