A BELGIAN nursery worker is arguing that EU law requires the UK
to protect the "social norms of other EU states and the religious
views of workers who come to the UK", and that any English law that
conflicts with the expression of religious views should be set
The argument is being made by Sarah Tshikuna-Mbuyi, who took
advantage of EU laws on the freedom of movement for workers to come
to the UK in search of employment. She was taken on by Newpark
Childcare, in Shepherd's Bush, as a nursery worker, but was sacked
for gross misconduct when a lesbian colleague complained about her
views on homosexuality.
In a witness statement, Ms Tshikuna-Mbuyi told an Employment
Tribunal hearing in Watford this week that she had never raised her
colleague's sexuality, and had been "set up".
"I have resolved never to discuss her sexuality," she said. "But
it was [the colleague] who repeatedly approached me, voluntarily
seeking to discuss my faith and my Church. She was very needy, and
I sensed that; but this need was mixed with hostility to the
Christian faith - and, I suspect, to the Jewish and Islamic faith
as well - because of the Christian teaching on sexual ethics."
She said that she had given her colleague a Bible when she had
been recovering from an illness. "She hugged me, and told me that I
was very kind. I was not informed that this was unwelcome," she
She was dismissed for gross misconduct in January last year,
after a disciplinary hearing was told that she had turned up late
for a yoga training session, and had discriminated against her
colleague by discussing religious beliefs on sexuality.
"The hearing was wholly disrespectful of my Christian faith -
almost sneering about God, and the Church's views on sexual
ethics," she said in her witness statement. "I do not believe that
Islamic teaching would have been treated in this fashion."
Previously, similar claims have been argued on human-rights
grounds; but this week's hearing argues that dismissing people for
expressing religious views is contrary to the provisions on freedom
of movement in the Lisbon Treaty.
The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is supporting Ms
Tshikuna-Mbuyi in her Employment Tribunal claim, said: "There is
now a concern that the current levels of discrimination against
Christians in the UK mean that Christians from the EU will not seek
work in the UK because of a lack of protection for their human
The chief executive of the CLC, Andrea Minichiello Williams,
said: "Sharing biblical truths out of genuine love for colleagues
is being outlawed in the workplace by an oppressive cultural
correctness. There is a culture of fear which shuts down freedom of
speech and the expression of faith."
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) this
week called on governments to make "reasonable accommodation" for
"Expression of faith is sometimes unduly limited by national
legislation and policies which do not allow the accommodation of
religious beliefs and practices," PACE said in a resolution.
"The reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs and practices
constitutes a pragmatic means of ensuring the effective and full
enjoyment of freedom of religion."