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Housing charity worker suspended for 'homophobic' comments

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Housing charity worker suspended for 'homophobic' comments

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing

Housing charity worker suspended for 'homophobic' comments Housing charity worker suspended for 'homophobic' comments

A housing charity worker was suspended after telling a colleague about his Christian beliefs against homosexuality, it was revealed today.

David Booker, 44, was chatting about his faith with co-worker Fiona Vardy during a late shift at the hostel in Southampton, Hants on March 26.

He told her he was opposed to same-sex marriages and to homosexual clergy but denied being homophobic and said that he had homosexual friends.

The next evening, Mr Booker was suspended from his £19,000-a-year post as a hostel support worker with Society of St James where he has worked for the last four years.

His employers told him the action was taken for "events that happened last night".

On March 30 he received a formal suspension notice which alleged that he "seriously breached" the charity's code of conduct "by promoting your religious views which contained discriminatory comments regarding a person's sexual orientation...

"The action has been taken to safeguard both residents and staff" at the Southampton Street hostel.

Mr Booker, 44, a born-again Christian from Southampton, turned to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) which instructed human rights lawyer Paul Diamond to represent him.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of CLC, said: "Mr Booker has been suspended since March 27 for two weeks pending investigation.

"No date has been set for the investigation and disciplinary hearing.

"This 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."

He said the charity English Churches House Group, which was recently taken over by Society of St James, was largely funded by churches throughout Hampshire whose followers would be "shocked at the attitude and action taken by a Christian organisation towards a Christian employee".

He added: "The Archbishop of Canterbury, as patron, has confirmed the Church's teaching on marriage, same-sex relationships and homosexuality and that is in the public domain.

"We are interested to know whether his patronage is now under threat under the charity's Culture and Diversity Code of Conduct."

Trevor Pickup, Society of St James chief executive, later confirmed that Mr Booker had been suspended.

"The investigation is still ongoing," he said.

"Once we have made a decision, if it is appropriate, further action will be taken. At this stage we are still investigating.

"We are housing vulnerable adults and we need to be very careful to demonstrate our respect to them and the integrity of our staff as well."

The Society welcomed talks with CLC which has not contacted it as yet, he said.

 

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