LONDON, July 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Christian magistrate dismissed for saying that it is in a child’s best interests to be raised by a mother and a father has won permission to appeal the National Health Service’s decision not to accept him back as a non-executive director.
Richard Page, 71, appeared at the Employment Appeal Tribunal today at 10:00 a.m., supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC).
The Chief Executive of the CLC, Andrea Williams, told LifeSiteNews, “We are absolutely delighted that Richard will continue to seek justice. It is vital that people like Richard who are passionate about service in public life are free to speak and live out their Christian faith. They should not be censored or punished for their faith.”
Page, who had worked for various NHS establishments for almost 20 years, was suspended from his role as a non-executive director of Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) in March 2016.
This was a second blow to Page after being fired as a magistrate, and for the same cause: telling the BBC in a 2015 television interview that he disagreed with fellow magistrates over placing a child for adoption with same-sex couples.
“My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child,” he told his interviewer, “and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and a woman who were the adoptive parents.”
As a result, a disciplinary panel investigated Page and recommended that he be removed for “bringing the judiciary into disrepute.”
The BBC reported that the then-Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove, and the Lord Chief Justice both said that Page’s comments would cause a “reasonable person” to think that Page was “prejudiced” against “single-sex adopters.”
When Page was removed as a non-executive director of KMPT, the Trust’s chairman, Andrew Ling, told the BBC that allowing him to stay on as a member would have “a major impact” on patients and staff, “particularly LGBT staff.”
“Links between the stigma often associated with being LGBT and poor mental health are well-established,” Ling said. “It is vital that patients and local population are confident that KMPT will challenge stigma or discrimination.”
In response, Page said that he was being removed from public life because of his Christian faith.
“It would appear no longer possible to be a Christian, to state what the Bible actually says and what the Church has believed for 2,000 years, and maintain a role in public life in today's Britain,” he stated. “My seat on the NHS Trust came as a result of my long service in mental health and total commitment to the NHS – none of that has changed.”
“What about treating my views, held by billions of Christians around the world, equally and fairly?” he asked.
In August 2017, he went to the Croydon Employment Tribunal claiming discrimination, harassment, and victimization against the NHS Trust Development Authority. His application was rejected. Disappointed, Page said he would appeal. Now he has won permission to do that.
Before his victory today, Page observed that his initial intervention on behalf of children has turned into a battle for free speech.
“My desire to do the best for the child has been the paramount consideration throughout my time as a magistrate on the family panel,” he said in a press release. “Yet by living out this belief, I have been drawn into a much bigger battle about my freedom, and the freedom of Christians more broadly, to express biblical truth in the public square.”
“To my dismay, I have discovered the appalling anti-Christian attitude prevalent throughout much of the establishment,” he continued. “It is deeply shocking that someone like me, who cares deeply about justice and freedom, and who has spent my whole life working to serve the community out of love for Jesus Christ, should now be punished in this way.”
Williams echoed Page’s concern for both adopted children and for freedom of speech.
“The NHS expressed concern that Mr Page spoke to the media about what happened to him. But why shouldn't he speak to the media?” she asked. “We have to stand against the false assertion that it is best for a child to be raised by same-sex couples. The evidence directly contradicts this.”
“Mr Page is a selfless and compassionate individual who has dedicated himself to public service,” Williams continued. “Yet he is another in a long-time of brave Christians who have suffered detriment for expressing biblical truth in the public sphere. We continue to stand by him in his legal challenge.”