Adrian Smith v Trafford Housing Trust

I haven’t been online for a few days so forgive me for being behind the curve on this one.

Back in October last year Trafford Housing Trust demoted Adrian Smith and slashed his salary for comments made on his private Facebook page – in his own time – stating gay weddings in churches were “an equality too far”.

Adrian Smith has rightly won his legal case against Trafford Housing Trust.

Law and Religion UK have some useful case notes and Harry’s Place have published Peter Tatchell’s comments:

“This a victory for free speech and fair play. Although Adrian Smith opposed religious same-sex marriages, he supported the right of gay couples to get married in a civil ceremony in a register office. He is entitled to his view and should never have been demoted. I am glad that my statement in support of Adrian was used in his legal case and that he has been vindicated,”

Tags: ,

9 Responses to “Adrian Smith v Trafford Housing Trust”

  1. Fr Richard Says:

    What I find particularly ironic about this case – and others concerning ‘free speech’ and the right of Christians, is the very fact that for much of its history – certainly from Nicaea onwards – and esp. its history in Europe: Christianity (once it has a toe-hold of political power) has quashed Free Speech. This was of course painted as ‘maintaining the truth of Religion’ – hence the ruthless (and often bloody) suppression of heresies in pre-Reformation Europe and then of course the bitter struggles between Catholics and Protestants. In England it was not until well into the 19th century that both Catholics and Nonconformists enjoyed the freedoms of their Anglican neighbours. In short the notion of ‘Free Speech’ seems to have little to do with Christianity until very recently.

    It is curious, how some Christians now see many ‘human rights’ as something intrinsically ‘Christian’, when there is very little evidence for this. ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘Freedom of Religion’ have certainly not been central tenets of most Christian societies for the vast majority of their history – indeed the reverse. Even in the United States there has been a Protestant bias until relatively recently – JFK’s Catholicism and Mitt Romney’s Mormonism were seen has handicaps in the Presidential race – which is curious in nation that claims ‘Freedom of Religion’ as one of its founding principles!

    It is ironic that now, conservative Christians see ‘Freedom of Speech’ and ‘Freedom of Religion’ as their particular battleground; they decry and belittle secular democracy and yet benefit hugely from its legal freedoms. If they were in political power, history suggests ‘Freedom of Speech’ would be one of the first things to go!

    As an aside, I wonder how many conservative Christians would come to Peter Tatchell’s aid if the tables were reversed? I suspect very few. Given the ease with which some of our Christian brethren malign and tell falsehoods about this man, I just hope a few are now hanging their heads in shame.

  2. Goy Says:

    In hoc signo vinces†

    “In a democratic society, Adrian has a right to express his point of view, even if it is misguided and wrong.” – Peter Tatchell

    This statement is after the fact and mealy-mouthed, Adrian Smith in the first instance was prosecuted and sanctioned. The facts of that prosecution and sanction disqualify the statements assertion of a democratic society and the right to express a point of view.

    The real assault on democracy and free speech is the initial intimidation, prosecution and risk of conviction. Adrian Smith clearly did not have the right to freely and without injury express his point of view.

    This is not an attack on Peter Tatchell.

  3. Fr Richard Says:

    @Goy

    1) I don’t think Peter Tatchell is being mealy mouthed – he is just using his right to free speech: he states that he feels that what Mr Smith said is incorrect. Which of course he is: Mr Smith was stating gay-marriage was something gay people wanted to take place in church – and hinted that the government was going to force this (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/nov/16/christian-wins-case-gay-marriage-comments). There have never been ANY plans for places of worship to be forced to conduct same-sex marriages – the hype and (purposeful?) ill-feeling around this has actually been created by various conservative Christian organisations (the usual culprits – hot on the Bible when it comes Lev 18:22, but rather lax when it comes to the spirit of Ex 20:16 – they are also given to fear and hate mongering; I’m sure there are some liberal organisations that employ similar tactics, but since the conservative Christians claim the higher moral ground, more is expected of them when it comes to integrity!!).

    2) – Just where and when was Adrian Smith ‘prosecuted’? News to me. The entire issue is something that took place within the internal personnel disciplinary practice of Trafford Housing. There was no prosecution under Civil Law… Get your facts straight, Goy; it is this kind of misinformation that spreads discord and untruth (and the kind of thing some of Christian brethren seem to delight in (Matthew 7:16?)). The case – which given the paucity of your knowledge, you know little (yet seem so eager to lay blame at the foot of the state, for poor management within an autonomous organisation!) does not concern someone being ‘prosecuted’. Yes, he was wrongly sanctioned by his employers but he was never subject to direct Civil Law! As for your claim of a ‘risk of conviction’ – I really think you need to read around a subject before jumping into victim mentality… There never was a ‘risk of conviction’ since he was never prosecuted in the first place! The whole court case was actually instigated by Smith himself (backed by the Christian Institute), as he sued Trafford Housing for breach of his employment contract.

    3) I don’t think anyone (least of all me) is seeing this as an attack on Peter Tatchell – all I was noting is how ironic it is that one of the more high profile supporters of Adrian Smith was Peter Tatchell: gay activist defending a conservative Christian. Where you get the idea that there mention of an attack on Peter Tatchell is beyond me! But then where you get the idea that Adrian Smith was at risk of prosecution and conviction, is itself is bizarre. The main thrust of my comment concerns the fact Christianity has only recently aligned itself with the notion of Freedom of Speech, whereas for centuries, Christian societies have employed some very vicious means of preventing free speak (think of poor John Wycliffe – who got off lightly when compared with his acolyte, John Hus!).

    Hey ho, each to his own, I suppose – Adrian Smith was prosecuted and facing conviction at the hands of the wicked secular state; Peter Tatchell is mentioned and suddenly I am claiming he is being attacked… What do these two imagined slights against reality tell us about the minds of some of our fellow parishioners, I cannot say… But it seems a similar species of misinformation as the ‘gay marriage in church’ lie, that has taken up so much web space lately… Let us hope there is a greater desire for the truth in these matters in the future… John 8:32 and all that, we can but hope!

  4. Goy Says:

    @Fr Richard,

    Mischievously you deny the quasi-legal backdrop to this case, the use of weighty legalistic words was a play on that, part of the discourse.

    Maybe the Guardian should have reported this case on its gossip page not the News-Law-Employment page.

    Its all about the he said, she said and everyone being not only a policeman but judge, jury and executioner.

  5. roger pearse Says:

    It is good news.

    As I understand it; his ‘crime’ was to stick a 4 word comment on a post in Facebook. He was then denounced by an informer – one of “fr Richard”s allies. He’s suffered years of hell, and I don’t hear any sign that those responsible will be punished. Tormenting people by judicial delays is standard. Ezra Levant said of this kind of persecution, “the process is the punishment”. We must not rejoice too much, when there seems little sign that there will not be more such cases.

    Tatchell’s position is certainly cynical – to try to position himself, a man who has campaigned ceaselessly to create the current situation, as a “moderate” when his allies behave even worse than usual. This is a very standard ploy.

  6. Chris H Says:

    Adrian Smith may have won the case on contract but he has still paid a heavy price. Trafford Housing Trust have refused to reinstate him to his previous position or to restore his pay. The warning is clear for anyone to who might dare to voice opposition to such matters.

  7. Goy Says:

    The Trafford Housing Trust site is top-heavy on the social engineering equality & diversity side of politics, in light of this case could this “equality too far” saturation become a workplace culture that discriminates against potential social housing tennets that hold misguided and wrong opinions.

    Current Equality Scheme

    What is Equality & Diversity?

  8. Fr Richard Says:

    @ Roger

    My own view is that Trafford Housing had no business sticking its nose into what people do outside of work – or of trying to police private opinion and belief. So I am afraid I have to disappoint your little fantasy about my beliefs. I think Adrian Smith was treated shamefully.

    As an aside, I think Christians have to realise that although the Bible does contain some heart warming prohibitions against convenient minorities – and thus the majority can cluck and moan and rejoice they are ‘righteous’ just because they are not of ‘the other’; that the nature of suffering and Christ’s words (also found in the Bible, but seemingly not as well known (or as loved it would seem) as Lev 18:22) about turning the other cheek, forgiving one’s enemies – when sued for one’s tunic to offer one’s cloak as well (Matt 5: 39-40) have also to be obeyed – and have a prophetic and eschatological significance. Here I speak from experience…

    For two years (in my Evangelical days) I worked at a Christian run and staffed homeless shelter. I had several encounters with Stephen Farrow types (see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-20171967) – those with a pathological hatred of Christians that was played out in violence and abuse. I have a knife wound scar on my right hand to prove it – and still have the odd nightmare (25 years on) of the time I had a broken bottle held against my wind pipe and was told I was going to be killed (thankfully another homeless man wacked my would-be killer over the head and I made a dash to safety!). Did I sue these people? Did I claim religious persecution? No, in fact we invited the guy who had try to stab me over for Sunday lunch – just to show the nature of forgiveness.

    With Smith’s case I think he was right to take appropriate legal action against Trafford Housing – I wish I could say the same for many of the ‘professional martyrs’ who are clamouring to be heard in the courts. The outcome of Smith’s case is of importance to us all. The same can’t be said about much that is claimed as religious persecution (indeed it is an insult to the many Christians around the world who really do suffer persecution!).

  9. Fr Richard Says:

    @Goy

    I totally agree, re: Trafford Housing – and other orgs.

    I just can’t understand how organisations, strapped for cash, have the time to spend on such inaccessible documents. In all ‘equalities monitoring’ forms I receive or have to fill in I always write ‘information refused’. Nor in my work (palliative care) do I ask patients all the questions on our monitoring forms.

    It is just a pseudo-morality, political correctness – the problem is Christians too are now playing the same game… And in doing so loose their integrity.

Switch to our mobile site