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Christian wins court case over gay marriage Facebook remark

Christian wins court case over gay marriage Facebook remark

A Christian housing manager who was demonted and had his salary slashed after he criticized gay marriages in church has won his court case.

Adrian Smith, aged 54, from Bolton, north west England was a manager at Trafford Housing Trust.

But after he wrote on Facebook that ‘marriage is for men and women’ he had his pay cut by 40% from £35,000 to £21,000. And he was shifted to a job as an advisor.

Friends said this would leave him facing financial hardship.

He added on Facebook that plans for gay marriage in the UK were ‘an equality too far’ saying: ‘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.’

But Trafford Housing Trust said that breached their rules on staff use of social media. They held a disciplinary hearing and Smith only avoided the sack because of his 18 years of service.

The homophobic Christian Institute supported his case, in which he said his right to free speech was ignored, and which campaigners claimed was a ‘complete over-reaction’.

His supporters pointed out that his comments were made on a private Facebook page and posted outside of work time although the trust said his remarks may have upset co-workers.

Today Smith has won his breach of contract case against the housing trust.

The BBC reports that High Court judge Mr Justice Briggs said: ‘Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct, and then demoted to a non-managerial post with an eventual 40% reduction in salary.

‘The breach of contract which the Trust thereby committed was serious and repudiatory.’

Matthew Gardiner, chief executive at Trafford Housing Trust said it accepted the court’s verdict.

Andy Wasley, from Stonewall, Britain’s leading gay campaign organization, said: ‘We’ll read the full ruling with interest, but the treatment of Mr Smith did seem a little heavy-handed given that he had temperately expressed his point of view, however disagreeable that point of view might be to many.

‘One thing the case does illustrate is the importance for anyone who uses social media of never assuming they speak in a “personal capacity” when they also advertise details of their employment online.’