UK’s First Gays vs. Church Test Case Against Anglican Bishop

Declined to hire youth worker who admitted to sexual activity outside of marriage
Thu Apr 5, 2007 - 12:15 pm EST

By Hilary White

  HEREFORD, April 5, 2007 ( – In a test case of the UK’s just passed Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR’s), an Anglican bishop is defending himself in the dock for refusing to hire a man who was pursuing an active homosexual lifestyle.

  The Right Rev Anthony Priddis, the Anglican Bishop of Hereford, rejected the accusation of unjust discrimination, saying that he declined to hire John Reaney as a youth worker because he admitted to engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage.

  Reaney, 41, from Llandud-no, North Wales is bringing an action against the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance, claiming that he was refused the job on the grounds that he was a homosexual. His complaint is being backed by the homosexual group, Stonewall, the notoriously anti-Christian political lobby group largely responsible for the imposition of the SOR’s.

  Reany’s “orientation” was not the issue, the bishop said, “But Mr Reaney’s lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese.”

  The Christian doctrine of sexual purity is still the official teaching and policy of the Church of England, and Bishop Priddis said, “What is at issue is the lifestyle, practice and sexual behaviour, whether the applicant is homosexual, heterosexual or transsexual.”

"The Church’s teaching draws distinction between sexual orientation and practice and lifestyle,” Bishop Priddis said. “We didn’t discriminate against Mr Reaney on the grounds of sexuality. Had we done so we wouldn’t have called him for an interview.”

  Until the passage of the SOR’s, secondary legislation associated with the 2006 Equality Act, religious organizations were exempt from previous anti-discrimination legislation. Churches and religious organizations campaigned against the passage of the SOR’s saying that it would lead to their being targeted by homosexual activists in lawsuits.

  The Reany case is considered to be the first of these expected test cases.

  Read related coverage:
 UK Regulations Barring Religious Schools from Teaching Against Homosexuality Approved

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