Charity worker David Booker faces an internal investigation today after he was suspended from his job at a Christian hostel for the homeless for discussing his views on homosexuality.
Booker, 44, was suspended last month after he told co-worker Fiona Vardy, during a late shift, that he was opposed to same sex civil partnerships and to homosexual clergy. But, he also told her that he wasn’t homophobic and that he had homosexual friends.
Andrea Miichello Williams, barrister and director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is helping Booker, said he made his views known “during a free-flowing conversation about Christian issues where they talked about the meaning of faith.”
The day after the conversation – March 26 – Booker was suspended from his £19,000 a year job by the Society of St James, which manages the Southampton hostel. The hostel was formerly managed by the English Churches Housing Group with which Booker had a contract, said Williams.
On March 30 Booker was given a formal suspension notice alleging that: “While on shift with Fiona Vardy you seriously breached ECHG’s code of conduct by promoting your religious views which contained discriminatory comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation.”
Williams said: “The case shows that in today’s politically correct increasingly secularised society, even consenting reasonable discussion on religion between two employees is being twisted by employers to discriminate and silence the Christian voice and freedom of expression.”
She added that barrister Paul Diamond, who specialises in religious liberty, will represent Booker if the case proceeds beyond an internal disciplinary hearing.