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Removal of Christian non-executive director

A recent case has decided that an NHS Trust Development Authority did not discriminate against a Christian non-executive director, on religious grounds when it decided not to renew his term after he spoke out in public against homosexuality and same-sex couple adoption. Mr Page gave several interviews to the media making it clear that he thought that homosexual activity was wrong and that he did not agree with same-sex marriage.

The court found that there was no direct discrimination because Mr Page was removed for repeatedly speaking to the media without first informing the Trust, despite repeated requests to seek permission, and not because of his religious belief. In addition, there had been no indirect discrimination because however a provision, criterion or practice may have been formulated.  There had been no victimisation because the protected acts relied on by Mr Page had not been the reason for the action taken against him.

In concluding remarks, the court observed that there are circumstances in which it is right to expect Christians (and those of other faiths) who work for an institution, especially if they hold a high-profile position, to accept some limitations on how they express their beliefs in public on matters of particular sensitivity. Whether such limitations are justified in a particular case can only be judged by a careful assessment of all the relevant circumstances in order to strike a fair balance between the rights of the individual and the legitimate interests of the institution they work for.