By Tim Waggoner

BRISTOL, U.K., October 27, 2008 ( – Gary McFarlane, a psychosexual therapist for the relationships counseling service Relate in the U.K., says he was fired for refusing to offer to give sex advice to homosexual couples.

According to the Daily Mail, the father of two claims that Relate failed to accommodate his personal faith. He is now taking his case to the employment tribunal, alleging he has been discriminated against because of his religious beliefs.

McFarlane began training as a counselor with Relate in 2003, and says he learned to feel comfortable in helping homosexual couples in dealing with basic relationship problems.

But after McFarlane underwent training last year on route to becoming a psychosexual therapist, he was confronted with giving sex therapy to homosexual couples, and realized he could no longer do so because of the different nature of his new position – dealing with couples’ intimate sexual issues. He said he felt he could not in conscience do anything to actively promote homosexual sex.

“In counselling, you are drawing the couple out, going on a journey with them, enabling them to think in more than black and white. You are not telling anyone what to do or endorsing what they do,” he said.

“But in sex therapy you are diagnosing their problems and setting them a treatment plan, not unlike a doctor.”

He notified his supervisor of his reservations and expected Relate to work with him in finding a way around the situation, just as he says the organization had done for many counselors who felt uncomfortable working with certain patients.

This was not the case for McFarlane, however, who was suspended for three weeks in December after some employees complained that he was a “homophobe.” Upon returning to work, he was forced to agree to Relate’s equal opportunities policy, with the condition that he could still raise concerns in the future.

After further complaints by staff, however, he was told Relate did not believe he intended to uphold the equal opportunities policy and was dismissed.

“Sad and disappointed” with the “bigotry” he experienced, McFarlane says Christians in general are more noticeably becoming subjected to this type of discrimination.

“If I was a Muslim this would not happen,” he said. “They would find a way to make the system work. But Christians seem to have fewer and fewer rights. Relate needs to be forced to work through stuff like this.”

MacFarlane is not the first Christian who has suffered from a professional environment in the U.K. that is increasingly hostile to those who hold to traditional sexual morals. In another case that received much publicity earlier this year, Lillian Ladele, a devout Christian and a U.K. marriage registrar, was threatened with dismissal by her employer if she did not agree to “marry” same-sex couples. Ladele refused, and instead brought the Islington Counsel before the employment tribunal. In an unexpected ruling the tribunal ultimately decided in favor of Ladele.

McFarlane is hoping that the employment tribunal will look with similar favor upon his religious views – views which he points out are far from extreme.

“There was a group who didn’t want me there and they got their teeth in,” he said about his experiences with Relate. “I was prepared to explore my reservations but they wanted unconditional assurances that they would never become an issue for me.”

“Why did they have to slam the door like that? This could force other Christians out of counseling. Some have already reacted with consternation, saying if it could happen to someone of my experience and skills, it could happen to them.”

Relate said they will not issue any comments until after the “employment tribunal has taken place.”