John Reaney awarded £47,000

14 February 2008

by Simon Sarmiento

An Employment Tribunal in Cardiff published its final judgment last Friday, awarding John Reaney more than £47,000, but made no other recommendations. Last July, Mr Reaney won a case of unlawful discrimination against the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis (News, 20 July).

The tribunal noted that: “the Respondents have accepted the need to provide equal-opportunity training to all of its individuals who are engaged in a recruitment exercise. Furthermore if a genuine occupational requirement does apply in a particular case then thought will be given by the Respondents to make that clear in any advertisement . . . we are satisfied that these matters have been taken seriously by the Respondents.”

The compensation includes £25,000 for future loss of wages, £8000 for future pension loss, £7000 damages for psychiatric injury, and £6000 for injury to feelings.

Alison Downie, Mr Reaney’s solicitor, said: “Given his comments [in the Temple lecture last week], the Archbishop of Canterbury should ensure that the Church of England and its bishops act in full and complete accordance with UK and European law now — otherwise we are likely to see more discrimination cases against the Church in the future.”

Mr Reaney said: “I remain sad that the Church fought my case even after being found to have acted unlawfully. I would much prefer to be working as a Christian within the Church to promote and develop youth work, but was stopped from doing so because I am gay.”

In a press release, the diocese of Hereford said: “We are now aware that, when making such an appointment, we must make it clear if it is a genuine occupational requirement that the post-holder should believe in and uphold the Christian belief and ideal of marriage, and that sexual relationships are confined to marriage. This is the crux of the matter, not sexual orientation.”

A spokesperson for the pressure group Stonewall responded: “The crux of the matter is that discriminating against gay people in employment is unlawful. Let’s hope this is covered in the equal-opportunities training diocesan staff will be attending.”

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