Gay Christian wins claim against Church of England

A gay Christian has won a discrimination claim against the Church of England after it was found to have blocked his appointment on the grounds of his sexuality.

John Reaney, a 42-year-old from North Wales, took the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance to employment tribunal after his appointment to the role of youth worker was blocked by the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis.

Mr Reaney is set to secure substantial compensation after the tribunal judgment, which said: “The respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

A date for a remedy hearing is due to be set.

Mr Reaney, of Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay, claimed unlawful discrimination under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.

The tribunal claim was backed and financed by gay lobby group Stonewall.

Mr Reaney told the tribunal in April that he was questioned by Bishop Priddis on his previous gay relationship during a two-hour meeting on July 19 last year after emerging as the outstanding candidate for the job during the interview process.

He said the encounter was embarrassing and humiliating and described how he had to pull over during his drive home from the bishop’s residence to break down in tears.

Three days after the meeting, the Bishop telephoned Mr Reaney to say his application had not been successful.

During his evidence, Bishop Priddis said he had made clear to Mr Reaney that a person in a committed sexual relationship outside of marriage, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender, would be turned down for the role, which he said was a key appointment within the diocese.

The Bishop added: “Such sexuality in itself was not an issue but Mr Reaney’s lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese.”

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icWales, UK
July 18, 2007

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This post was last updated: Thursday, July 19, 2007 at 3:16 PM, Central European Time (CET)