Judge rules Christians have NO special rights as he throws out case of sex therapist who refused to work with gay couples

Ruling: Lord Justice Laws said that the protection of views on religious grounds could not be justified

A judge today threw out a Christian counsellor’s claim he had been wrongly sacked for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples.

“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. ”
—Luk 17:26-30

Days of Noah

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”
—Gen 6:11

Days of Lot

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
—Jude 1:7

In a ruling which will further inflame fraught relations between the Church and the judiciary, Lord Justice Laws said that the protection of views purely on religious grounds cannot be justified.

He said it was not only an irrational idea, ‘but it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary’.

The case was brought by father-of-two Gary McFarlane, a former Relate counsellor, and backed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

Angry: Gary McFarlane had hoped to appeal after he was sacked from Relate for refusing to counsel same sex couples

Mr McFarlane, 48, from Bristol, had worked at the Avon branch of Relate where he had offered advice on sexual intimacy to straight couples.

But during his three years at the centre, he refused to work with same-sex partners because he believed it went against his religious beliefs.

This eventually led to him being sacked in 2008. Mr McFarlane later alleged unfair dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination.

But a tribunal dismissed his claims in January last year. He had gone to the High Court to seek leave to appeal the decision.

In a ruling issued today, Lord Justice Laws, threw out his case.

He said ‘We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs.

‘The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other.

‘If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens, and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic.

‘The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments.

‘The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.’

Lord Carey had sent a statement to the judge calling for a specially constituted panel of judges with a ‘proven sensitivity and understanding of religious issues’ to hear the case.

The former Archbishop of Canerbury said recent decisions involving Christians by the courts had used ‘dangerous’ reasoning and this could lead to civil unrest.


Lord Justice Laws has been involved in a number of high-profile legal actions, including the so-called ‘metric martyrs’ case.

Sitting with Lord Justice Crane, the law lord ruled that five market traders would no longer be able to trade in pounds and ounces.

The claimants had been using imperial measures despite a ban from Brussels.

An Oxford graduate, Lord Justice Laws was called to the bar in 1970, served on the Queen’s Bench Division and eventually appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1999.

However, he will be heavily criticised for his ruling in the McFarlane case.

But his specialism – constitutional law – has frequently brought him into conflict with a wide range of authorities.

Lord Justice Laws’s most notable argument is that the constitution would be undemocratic if all power was held with an elected government.

Instead, he believes it should be up to the courts to protect British democracy, not least against any abuses by Parliament.

He is also known for his commitment to freedom of expression.

Most recently Lord Justice Laws paved the way for science writer Simon Singh to appeal against a libel action by the British Chiropractic Association.

The case – seen by many as a watershed for protecting freedom of expression – centred on an article written by Mr Singh for the Guardian newspaper.

It became a cause celebre.

The BCA eventually dropped its case and filed a notice of discontinuation.

Lord Justice Laws is married with one daughter.

‘The description of religious faith in relation to sexual ethics as “discriminatory” is crude and illuminates a lack of sensitivity to religious belief,’ he said.

‘The comparison of a Christian, in effect, with a “bigot” (i.e. a person with an irrational dislike to homosexuals) begs further questions. It is further evidence of a disparaging attitude to the Christian faith and its values.’

Lord Justice Laws, however, said that his claims were ‘misplaced’ and judges had never likened Christians to bigots, or sought to equate condemnation by some Christians of homosexuality with homophobia.

He said it was possible that Lord Carey’s ‘mistaken suggestions’ arose from a misunderstanding of the law on discrimination.

‘In a free constitution such as ours there is an important distinction to be drawn between the law’s protection of the right to hold and express a belief and the law’s protection of that belief’s substance or content.’

He said the Judaeo-Christian tradition had exerted a ‘profound influence’ on the judgment of lawmakers.

‘But the conferment of any legal protection of preference upon a particular substantive moral position on the ground only that it is espoused by the adherents of a particular faith, however long its tradition, however long its culture, is deeply unprincipled,’ he said.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: ‘This is the right outcome for this case.

‘The law must be clear that anti-discrimination laws exist to protect people, not beliefs.

‘The right to follow a religious belief is a qualified right and it must not be used to legitimise discrimination against gay people who are legally entitled to protection against bigotry and persecution.

‘Fundamentalists are mounting one challenge after another in courts and employment tribunals.

‘They are trying hard to undermine the laws that protect gay people from discrimination.

‘They are seeking to create a hierarchy of rights that places Christian dogma over the rights of people to fair treatment.

‘They must not be allowed to succeed.’

Lord Carey’s comments that there will be civil unrest over such discrimination cases was ‘dangerous nonsense’, said Mr Sanderson.

  1. Becca, 30 April, 2010

    The Bible says we will be hated for His name’s sake. They will mock and persecute us because we are not greater than our Master. It’s all intensifying each day as the sounding of the trumpet draws ever closer.

  2. murray, 30 April, 2010

    that guy can’t see straight

  3. Joe, 30 April, 2010

    Soo.. since they cannot discriminate, are Christian anger management counselors compelled to recommend the most effective way for a muslim man to beat his wife or to perform an honor killing?

  4. Carrie M. Boyer, 01 May, 2010

    Anyone who needs “sex therapy” is a moron.

  5. Steve White, 02 June, 2010

    Christians know that marriage can only be sanctified by God and that it would be blasphemy for a minister to bless an unholy union. Ministers today are under great political pressure to defile their temples and violate their own conscience. Our Democratic society has turned this sin into a civil right. If it is a civil right then let the judges perform the ceremonies and give counsel. Lawmakers open your eyes and read the bibles you once swore by. Judgment will come on this nation not because we are sinners but because our laws have over ruled Gods law for the sake of Democracy and individual freedoms. I pray for those who are in bondage to immorality and even more for those who justify it. God Bless You!

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