Gay man refused job by Church of England bishop wins case for unlawful discrimination

A gay man refused a job by a Church of England bishop has won his case for unlawful discrimination.

An employment tribunal ruled John Reaney was discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation by the Hereford diocesan board of finance.

Reaney said he was questioned by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, on his previous gay relationship during a two-hour meeting on 19 July 2006

He was previously told he had emerged as the outstanding candidate for the job during an eight-man interview, the tribunal heard.

Under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, it is illegal to discriminate against people as a result of their sexual orientation, but the law does contain an exemption for organised religion.

Ben Summerskill, head of gay rights group Stonewall, which backed the case, said: “The tribunal has rightly made clear that the Church of England cannot discriminate against gay people with impunity. No-one, not even a bishop, is exempt from the law.”

A spokesman for the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England said: “The broader issue raised by this case is whether there are posts, including some non-clergy posts, where the religious exemptions permitted under the regulations can properly be applied by bishops and dioceses. The tribunal has helpfully confirmed that there are.

“The regulations will continue to provide important protection for churches and other religious organisations in ensuring that their recruitment policies can reflect the organisation’s beliefs.”

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