Controversial: Adrian Smith and his comments on Facebook about same-sex marriage

By Jaya Narain and Steve Doughty posted on 23rd October 2011

A housing association manager faces losing his home because of his Christian views about gay weddings in churches.

Father-of-two Adrian Smith, 54, was demoted and had his pay drastically cut after he posted comments on  his private Facebook page in which  he said that celebrating same-sex weddings in churches would be ‘an equality too far’.

He was hauled before bosses at the taxpayer-funded Trafford Housing Trust in Greater Manchester and found guilty of gross misconduct.

His salary was cut from £35,000 a year to £21,396 and he was given a final written warning that means any further offence will result in his sacking. Mr Smith, who now handles rent collection, was told he had been spared the sack only because of his long service of 18 years.

The housing official now faces homelessness himself, said Mike Judge of the Christian Institute think-tank, which is supporting Mr Smith.

‘His pay is being reduced in increments, so he is not in immediate trouble,’ said Mr Judge.

‘However, as it goes down, in two or three months he is going to have trouble paying his mortgage. His only hope is that his employers see sense and reverse their decision.’

The treatment of Mr Smith is set to produce another legal battle over the right of Christians to express their views. It follows a string of cases in which Christians have been denied the right to profess their faith publicly or act in accordance with their religious views. Four cases are waiting to come before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

In the past even gay rights leaders have acknowledged that people have a right to disagree with their cause. In 2009, when the Labour government introduced harassment laws that made it a serious crime to abuse gay people, Ben Summerskill, chief of pressure group Stonewall, said criticism of gay rights was perfectly acceptable so long as it was ‘temperate’ and ‘polite’.

Mr Smith made his Facebook comments – viewable only by people listed as his friends – in his own time after a BBC story about the Government’s plans to lift the ban on homosexual couples holding civil partnerships in churches.

He said this was ‘an equality too far’, and one of his Facebook friends, a work colleague, posted: ‘Does this mean you don’t approve?’

Mr Smith, who attends an evangelical church in Bolton, replied: ‘No, not really. 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 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.’

One colleague sent a complaint to the housing association’s ‘equality and diversity’ head, Helen Malone.

According to legal documents, Mr Smith was told by a colleague in a meeting that his comments could be taken to mean ‘gay people are not as equal as people who are not gay’, and were therefore homophobic.

Mr Smith has said he cannot speak about the case because of his legal action, in which he is asking for compensation and an admission by Trafford Housing Trust that his rights to free speech and freedom of religion have been broken.

But Mr Judge said: ‘There seems to be a culture of fear among companies who feel impelled to launch an inquisition if anyone doesn’t buy into the equality and diversity manifesto in its entirety. This witchhunt has to stop.’

David Barrow, commercial director of the Trust, said it ‘has an equal opportunities policy and Mr Smith’s comments on Facebook, where he identified himself as a Trust employee, went against this policy.

‘We expect employees at all levels to act respectfully. This applies in person and on social media.’

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1 Response to “Christian faces losing home for opposing gay weddings in churches”

  1. 1 Phil in Sydney

    Dear Catch The Fire,

    We need to pray for Adrian Smith.

    What we read here in the UK will no doubt happen in Australia if Gay Marriage becomes a reality. Opposition will be silenced by victimisation and removal of rights to free speech to anyone who dares makes any comments against gays or lesbians.

    David Barrow, commercial director of the Trust, has clearly gone well beyond reasonable behaviour.
    The trust ‘has an equal opportunities policy” related to an employee’s working time for the trust . It cannot extend to a person’s time outside an organisation. It is does then it becomes coercion over an individual’s rights to their opinion and free speech

    David Barrow is wrong. This is Orwell’s 1984 book revisited

    Absolutely disgraceful

    I pray the Trust have to pay a massive compensation for victimisation of an employee. This is wrong.


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