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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Bishop loses gay employment case
Bishop Anthony Priddis
I still think the decision I made was the right one
Bishop Anthony Priddis
A gay man has won his case for unlawful discrimination after he was refused a youth official's job by a Church of England bishop.

The employment tribunal said John Reaney, 42, was discriminated against "on grounds of sexual orientation" by the Hereford diocesan board of finance.

Mr Reaney, from Colwyn Bay, Conwy, said he was "delighted" at the decision.

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, said he was "naturally disappointed" and may appeal.

During the tribunal in Cardiff in April, Mr Reaney said he was questioned by Bishop Priddis on his previous gay relationship during a two-hour meeting on 19 July 2006

It came after he was told he had emerged as the outstanding candidate for the job during an eight-man interview, the hearing heard.

Mr Reaney, whose case was supported by Stonewall, also told the tribunal he was left "very embarrassed and extremely upset" following the meeting and said he felt like "a total waste of space".

John Reaney
John Reaney said he had been made to feel like a "waste of space"

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 post.

But the tribunal found that the bishop should only have considered the present lifestyle of Mr Reaney, who is single, and he should have not questioned his future relationships.

Delivering the judgement, the tribunal said the case would now be listed for a remedy hearing.

"The respondents discriminated against the claimant on the grounds of sexual orientation," said the judgement.

Mr Reaney, who had already worked in two other Anglican dioceses, where he had been praised for his achievements, said he was delighted.

He said the case "demonstrated to many lesbian and gay Christians working for God within the Church of England that they are entitled to fair and respectful treatment".

But speaking to a news conference in Hereford on Wednesday, Bishop Priddis said: "I still think the decision I made was the right one."

"I regret the polarisation of view which takes place when these things happen," he said, adding he had made the decision after a "great deal of prayer and contemplation".

'Not exempt'

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said the verdict was "a triumph for 21st Century decency over 19th Century prejudice".

"We're very happy for John," he said.

"The tribunal has rightly made clear that the Church of England cannot discriminate against gay people with impunity. No-one, not even a bishop, is exempt from the law."

Under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, it is illegal to discriminate against people as a result of their sexual orientation, but the law does contain an exemption for organised religion.

Rev Richard Kirker, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said the bishop should resign.

He said: "This is a just outcome. The church has brought this humilation on itself. The case need never have been brought if the church was not institutionally homophobic."

Bishop Anthony Priddis says he has 'no regrets'

The Bishop of Hereford denied rejecting the applicant because of sexuality

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

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