Judge: Firing teacher who called homosexuality a sin reflects ‘modern British values of tolerance’
LONDON, April 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In 2010, high school science teacher Robert Haye was dismissed from his position at Deptford Green School after he responded to questions from high school students aged 15-16 by saying that homosexual activity is a “sin."
Teaching authorities subsequently banned him “indefinitely” from teaching at any high school in the country, a ban that was later endorsed by Education Secretary Michael Gove.
A London High Court rejected Haye’s appeal, saying that his comments were “inappropriate” and that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, the campaign group Christian Concern reported, noting that this is the first case of its kind.
Haye, a Seventh Day Adventist, also reportedly told students that it those Christians who worship on Sundays are “basically worshipping the devil."
Haye cannot apply to return to the classroom for two years.
In his judgment, Mr. Justice King said that teachers must present positive information on homosexuality “to enable students to challenge derogatory stereotypes and prejudice,” and that this policy reflected “modern British values of tolerance." He said Haye’s appeal was “misconceived and must fail."
Robert Ogilvy, Haye’s representative in court, said that the ban is “fundamentally unreasonable, unfair and disproportionate” and violated his client’s freedom of speech and religion.
The judge disagreed, saying, “This case is not about the right of a teacher to hold sincerely held beliefs based on the Bible in relation to homosexuality or attendance at church on Sundays. It has been about how those beliefs and views are manifested in the context of teaching in schools with young people with diverse sexuality, backgrounds, and beliefs.”
Haye said in a statement that the ruling was likely to end his teaching career, but that he would not recant his beliefs.
“God comes first,” he said. “Christians are now being persecuted in this country for believing in the Bible.”
“We have a right to believe and express what we believe, but people are now afraid of being punished for not being politically correct,” Haye said. “This country is a free and democratic society – but is it? Is it really?”
The Church of England and the Catholic Church, as well as other religious groups, lawyers and some parliamentarians have repeatedly warned the government that the civil rights of both clergy and believing laity who have religious or moral objections to homosexual activity are under threat from the government’s proposed “gay marriage” legislation.
Speaking to Haye’s case, Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said it is only one, with more to come should the government pass the bill into law.
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“This case shows that even before any change in the law on marriage, people with strong beliefs on sexual ethics are being squeezed out of their jobs.”
“There is a deep irony that, in the name of ‘tolerance,’ people are being forced into accepting a set of values to which they have not subscribed,” he said. “The courts are actually propagating a growing intolerance and are failing to protect people’s freedom of expression."
A new ComRes poll released in February found that one in 10 teachers would refuse to cover same-sex “marriages” in their lessons, while one in six said they “wouldn’t be happy about it."
Campaign Director for the Coalition for Marriage, Colin Hart, responded to the findings, saying, “Tens of thousands of teachers face the real prospect of being disciplined, or sacked, over the government’s proposals to redefine marriage, creating a poisonous atmosphere in every staffroom in every school.
He pointed out that the “safeguards” in the government’s “gay marriage” bill – that they have called a “quadruple lock” – are all directed to clergy of the Church of England, that there is no wording included in the legislation that would protect lay people working in the public sector from legal action.
Michael Gove has reportedly agreed that teachers’ freedom of speech and religion will be curtailed by the bill. President of Gove’s Surrey Heath Conservative Association, Geoffrey Vero, told Radio 5 Live that Gove is “concerned” about the possible consequences.
“I think it has consequences for teachers, I think it has consequences for parents and children, and although Michael says in the Mail Friday that he has total confidence in the legislation, well that’s not what he told me only a week ago when I met him in Parliament,” Vero said. Even the “quadruple lock” that covers only Church of England clergy, is suspect, Vero said: “We don’t have total confidence that that is going to stand the test of time.”
Brendan O’Neill, editor of online libertarian magazine Spiked, has expressed his shock at how quickly the public “space” for disagreement with “gay marriage” has shrunk.
In his April 17th editorial, “Gay marriage: a case study in conformism,” O’Neill wrote, “I have been doing or writing about political stuff for 20 years, since I was 18 years old, during which time I have got behind some pretty unpopular campaigns and kicked against some stifling consensuses. But I have never encountered an issue like gay marriage, an issue in which the space for dissent has shrunk so rapidly, and in which the consensus is not only stifling but choking.”
He described being booed and receiving death threats after he criticised the proposal “from a liberal secular perspective."