On this day: Victory for Christian demoted over gay marriage comments
On 16 November 2012, a judge ruled that Adrian Smith had ‘done nothing wrong’ in describing same-sex weddings in churches as “an equality too far”.
Adrian Smith, a committed Christian, made the remark on his personal Facebook page, which was not visible to the general public, outside work time.
But bosses at Trafford Housing Trust (THT), near Manchester, took action against Mr Smith saying the comments amounted to misconduct and could bring the Trust into disrepute.
an equality too far
It all started a few months earlier when Adrian read a BBC article about same-sex marriages in churches. Concerned about the impact this would have on his fellow believers, he posted a link to the story on his personal Facebook page. He added the brief comment “an equality too far”.
When his bosses were alerted to the post, they accused him of gross misconduct, removed him from his managerial position and cut his salary by 40 per cent. Adrian tried to appeal internally against this astoundingly heavy-handed response, but his bosses dug their heels in.
Even gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell called it a massive overreaction, but THT refused to back down.
Mr Smith went to court with the backing of The Christian Institute.
It was a victory for freedom of speech, and it shows that an individual can make a difference if he is willing to take a stand.
The judge, Mr Justice Briggs, said the Trust had no right to demote Mr Smith over his Facebook comments, and ruled that the Trust had breached the terms of his contract. He also rejected the suggestion that Mr Smith’s comments could be viewed as homophobic. THT apologised for its actions.
For technical reasons relating to contract law, Mr Smith was awarded less than £100 in damages.
However, he described the ruling as a “victory for freedom of speech”, and “it shows that an individual can make a difference if he is willing to take a stand”.
He added: “Without The Christian Institute supporting me, this case would not have happened. To have the backing of an organisation like that, together with the prayers of thousands of Christians, was a tremendous encouragement.”
In an exclusive interview, Adrian talked to The Christian Institute about his two-year battle to stand up for marriage and for free speech.
He talked about the highs and the lows, the impact on himself and his family, and the positive difference Christians can make if they are willing to take a stand.