UK Employment Tribunal: Christian Nursery Worker’s Sacking over ‘Anti-Gay’ Views Were Discriminatory

( [email protected] ) Jun 08, 2015 06:17 PM EDT
An employment tribunal in the United Kingdom city of Watford has ruled that Christian nursery worker Sarah Mbuyi was discriminated against after she was sacked for airing her views on homosexuality and marriage.
Sarah Mbuyi. Photo: Christian Concern

An employment tribunal in the United Kingdom city of Watford has ruled that Christian nursery worker Sarah Mbuyi was discriminated against after she was sacked for airing her views on homosexuality and marriage.

According to a report from BBC News, Mbuyi was dismissed from Newpark Childcare nursery in west London after she told her colleague, who was in a lesbian relationship, that "God is not OK with what you do." The tribunal ruled that the nursery discriminated against Mbuyi and her religious beliefs when it sacked her in January 2014.

"It's not like she didn't know about the Bible's ethics," Mbuyi said of her colleague.

Mbuyi added that she reassured her colleague that "God doesn't hate you" before making the statement that led to her dismissal. According to BBC News, Mbuyi's colleague asked her whether God would approve of her lesbian relationship.

"The word of God is made more and more irrelevant to society in general," Mbuyi said. "Society endorses ideologies that are absolutely contrary to His word."

Mbuyi told BBC News that her treatment was comparable to the views of wider society towards Christianity in the UK.

"If people like me and other Christians choose to stand by, we will face hostility," Mbuyi said.

According to a report from Press Association, 31-year old Mbuyi, a Belgian national who lived in Tottenham, north London, was supported by the Christian Legal Centre. The chief executive of the CLC, barrister Andrea Minichiello Williams, thought the tribunal's decision regarding Mbuyi was "a brave judgment."

"This judgment is a 'common sense' judgment which shows understanding of the Christian faith and Miss Mbuyi's freedom to live and speak it out in the work place," Williams said.

According to Press Association, the tribunal admitted that while the employer was "not anti-Christian" in their actions, Mbuyi's dismissal may have resulted on "stereotypical assumptions about her and her beliefs."

"[Her belief is] worthy of respect in a democratic society, is not incompatible with human dignity and is not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others," the tribunal ruled.

The tribunal added that the employer's policy of prohibiting the expression of "adverse views on homosexuality and/or describing homosexuality as a sin" would also impact "Christians holding similar views to Miss Mbuyi on the biblical teachings on practicing homosexuality."

"That is not merely because a significantly higher proportion of Christians would hold such views but also because many evangelical Christians feel their faith compels them to share it," the tribunal said.

The director of Newpark Childcare, Tiffany Clutterbuck, expressed disappointment with the tribunal's ruling, adding that the nursery wanted to protect the culture that was "inclusive and supportive for our children and staff."

"The tribunal found Miss Mbuyi's actions were not harassment of a gay colleague and that she was entitled to express her religious beliefs in the workplace in the context of the conversation which took place," Clutterbuck said. "Our priority will always be to provide an environment where every child feels like he or she belongs."

Mbuyi, who now works as a nanny at a different employer, expressed her relief at the outcome.

"I only ever responded to questions that my colleague asked me and wanted the very best for her," Mbuyi said. "I give glory to God for the decision and say 'well done' to the Christian Legal Centre."

Mbuyi emphasized that she had no hard feelings toward her former employer and colleague.

"I hope that my previous employer and colleagues are well and will understand from this that my intention was for their best," Mbuyi said.

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