TRIBUNAL DECISION IS MIXED BLESSING FOR CHURCH
The Employment Tribunal in which the Board of Finance of the Diocese of Hereford, was accused of Sexual Discrimination has issued its judgement. The Tribunal found in favour of the plaintiff, accepting that the Diocese did discriminate against Mr. John Reaney in not appointing him to the post of Youth Officer within the Diocese.
Commenting after receiving the Tribunal’s Judgement, The Bishop of Hereford, Anthony Priddis, who gave evidence at the hearing, said he was disappointed but not completely down. “The Tribunal accepted that I did not ‘interrogate’ Mr Reaney and that I had acted in accordance with the teachings of the Church of England. It also recognised that the post of Diocesan Youth Officer falls within the small number of posts outside of the clergy which are within the religious exemptions of the
Sexual Discrimination ActEmployment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.”
The House of Bishops teaching document “Issues in Human Sexuality” spells out in some detail the General Synod statements that the Church upholds the teaching that sexual relationships belong within marriage and that this high standard to which all people are called is especially expected of those in leadership within the Church.
That policy was endorsed by a General Synod motion of 1987, the Lambeth Conference of 1998 and the House of Bishop’s teaching document “Issues in Sexuality”. That policy, to which the Bishop of Hereford fully subscribes, is that those of homosexual orientation are wholly welcome and entitled to participate in the full life of the Church of England
It is the duty of every Bishop to uphold spiritual, moral and ethical standards and the Tribunal agreed. However, in the light of the tribunal decision the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance will now again look at its recruitment literature to make clear the teaching and requirements of the church in respect of the lifestyle of those in leadership roles.
In the light of the Tribunal decision, the Board of Finance will be taking further legal advice with a view to appeal.
The references above to “Sexual Discrimination” and to the “Sexual Discrimination Act” are what the press release says. They would appear to be errors. The case relates to the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.
The second reference has now been corrected on the diocesan website.