West Sussex Council has become the first English authority outside London to host a Stonewall employee in its offices, according to local press reports.
Dave Small, Stonewall’s Regional Workplace Associate for South East and South West England, will work in Chichester as part of a six-month trial.
Last year in nearby Brighton a Sunday school teacher was told she could not even put up a poster at her local library to advertise a church children’s event because it ‘promotes religion’.
Mr Small’s remit includes recruiting more organisations to become ‘Stonewall Diversity Champions’.
Stonewall – Britain’s largest homosexual lobby group – has campaigned to narrow a church’s right to employ staff who live according to church teaching on sexual behaviour.
It has also pushed for the repeal of a free speech shield which makes clear that criticising homosexual behaviour is not, of itself, a criminal offence.
It has supported legal actions against Christian B&B owners who can’t offer double beds to same-sex couples, and has welcomed laws that have crushed faith based adoption agencies.
Dave Small says his new posting will be a boost for expanding Stonewall’s work.
He said that it will allow him to “attend forums in the county and the surrounding area, as well as speak to organisations that work, or want to work with us on a more local, face-to-face basis.”
Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, welcomed Mr Small to the region.
She said: “We are delighted that Stonewall has chosen us to host Dave in the charity’s first efforts to station employees outside of London.
“I hope that having Dave here will give people in West Sussex and the surrounding area the chance to find out more about what Stonewall and the County Council both have to offer for the lesbian, gay and bi-sexual community.
“We look forward to working with Stonewall more closely.”