Former archbishop attacks courts over gay counselling ruling

The former archbishop of Canterbury has attacked a court ruling which held a Christian counsellor was fairly sacked from his job after refusing to work with gay couples.

Lord Carey said the “deeply worrying” judgment undermined the rights of religious believers, the Guardian has reported.

Carey had been criticised for suggesting that a specialist panel of five judges with a ‘proven sensitivity and understanding of religious issues’ should be brought in to hear the case.

Gary McFarlane was dismissed from his employer Relate Avon when he declined to fully commit to providing psycho-sexual counselling to same-sex couples on the basis that they conflicted with his religious beliefs.

Last year, an employment appeal tribunal ruled the counsellor was dismissed fairly from his employer, and rejected his claim for discrimination on the grounds of religion.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal dismissed McFarlane’s application for appeal.

Sarah Rushton, employment partner at Dawsons Solicitors, said: “This case clearly demonstrates that although the law protects an individual’s right to express a religious belief, it will not protect an individual acting in a discriminatory manner on the basis of their beliefs. We are seeing an increasing number of these cases, and employees should now be aware that courts will not recognise religion as a justifiable excuse for discriminatory behaviour in the workplace.”

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