Christian magistrate who lost his job and then his role as an NHS director for speaking out against adoption by same-sex parents will this week sue NHS bosses claiming political correctness can prevent Christians holding public posts.
Richard Page was suspended as an NHS Trust director after he claimed it was better for a child to be brought up by both a man and a woman.
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) claimed his stance “undermined” the confidence of staff, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.
He is now bringing a claim of discrimination, harassment and victimisation against the NHS Trust Development Authority, a regulatory body, under the Equality Act 2010.
Mr Page, 71, from Kent, is expected to tell an employment tribunal that his faith put him on a collision course with the health service’s politically correct orthodoxy. The father of three is expected to warn that the loss of his job because of his religious beliefs signified a worrying shift away from pluralism towards ideological dictatorship in the health service.
The hearing, due to start on Tuesday at the Croydon Employment Tribunal courts, could have major implications for how public bodies treat staff who hold religious beliefs.
Mr Page had worked for 20 years as an NHS finance director before retiring and taking up a part-time role as a non-executive director at Kent and Medway in 2012.
While also working as a magistrate on a family panel in 2014, he opposed an application by a same-sex couple to adopt a child, rejecting a claim submitted in a social worker’s report that homosexual couples made better adoptive parents than straight couples.
When he told the hearing that it was “generally in the best interests” for a child to have a mother and father, the court clerk and two other magistrates sitting with him lodged official complaints saying his Christian beliefs meant he was prejudiced against same sex couples.
Mr Page found himself embroiled in a very public row about the rights of Christians when the then Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove, and Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, criticised him for being influenced by his religious beliefs rather than evidence.
Last year , he appeared on numerous television programmes in an attempt to defend his position. On one appearance on ITV’s This Morning where he declared that he was opposed to gay marriage, the presenter, Piers Morgan, accused him of being a homophobe, a claim Mr Page denied.
Later, he was then sacked for serious misconduct from the magistracy by Mr Gove and Lord Thomas who said his comments suggested he was “biased and prejudiced against single sex adopters”. A few days later the NHS Trust Development Authority suspended him.
Andrew Ling, the KMPT chairman, wrote to Mr Page saying: “The recent publicity you have courted is likely to further undermine the confidence staff, particularly lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered staff, have in the leadership of the Trust.”
Undeterred, Mr Page reapplied for the role but had his application rejected, despite more than 6,000 people signing a petition or directly emailing the Trust calling for him to be reinstated.
Lawyers for Mr Page will tell the tribunal hearing, which is due to last four days, that their client was only dismissed from his NHS role for his comments on television, and he had never been rude or disrespectful to homosexuals in any way. They will say that he is not homophobic but simply prefers traditional families over homosexual adoptions.
Andrea Williams from Christian Concern, which is supporting Mr Page’s legal action, said: “This case is another in a long line of cases that demonstrates the intolerance of our illiberal elites. Far from promoting diversity they punish people like Richard who serves his community so well.
“This case shows the ugly face of the LGBQ lobby that is incapable of tolerating anyone brave enough to challenge their lifestyle. The lobby will not be satisfied until they have eliminated any whiff of dissent in public life. They are the bullies.”
Laws allowing gay couples to adopt were introduced in 2002, with the numbers of such adoptions soaring. A number of celebrity same-sex couples promoted the adoptions, including Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish who in 2013 adopted their second child.
Source: The Telegraph