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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Bishop denies gay discrimination
The Rt Revd Anthony Priddis
Bishop Priddis said Mr Reaney's lifestyle cost him the job
A Church of England Bishop has denied unlawfully discriminating against a gay man who was turned down for a post within his diocese.

The Bishop of Hereford told a Cardiff tribunal he was complying with Church teachings when he decided not to give John Reaney, from Llandudno, the job.

It was his lifestyle, specifically that he was a sexually active man and not married that cost him the job, he said.

Mr Reaney, 41, claims being openly gay cost him the role of youth worker.

The committed Christian has lodged a claim for unlawful discrimination against the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance.

The hearing was told Mr Reaney was one of four candidates shortlisted for the job. He claims he was told at interview he was successful in his application.

We didn't discriminate against Mr Reaney on the grounds of sexuality. Had we done so we wouldn't have called him for an interview
Bishop Priddis

But following the interview process, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis decided to call him in for a discussion during which it emerged that he had just ended a five-year homosexual relationship.

The Bishop, 59, said he concluded that Mr Reaney was not emotionally in a position to be making promises about his behaviour for the future.

He would not have appointed a heterosexual person to a job of such responsibility if they were involved in a sexual relationship outside marriage, he added.

Cross-examining the Bishop, Mr Reaney's barrister said that policy was discriminatory and in denying Mr Reaney the job he was in clear breach of human rights legislation.

The Bishop said this view on sex outside of marriage was reinforced by leading bodies in the church including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the General Synod.

The tribunal heard the job was not offered to anyone else after Bishop Priddis vetoed the appointment because of financial constraints within the diocese.

John Reaney (right)
John Reaney is backed by gay rights organisation Stonewall Cymru

Bishop Priddis also denied he had breached the equal opportunity policy of his own diocese.

He said: "The Church's teachings draw distinction between sexual orientation and practice and lifestyle.

"We didn't discriminate against Mr Reaney on the grounds of sexuality. Had we done so we wouldn't have called him for an interview."

Under new employment laws passed in 2003, it is illegal to discriminate against people as a result of their sexual orientation.

But the law contains an exemption for organised religion and the tribunal is the first test case of how it applies to the Church of England.

Mr Reaney is being backed by gay rights organisation Stonewall, which is funding his case at the tribunal, which is expected to last four days.

The tribunal continues.

Gay man takes bishop to tribunal
01 Apr 07 |  Hereford/Worcs

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