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Christian children's worker sacked over marriage in Employment Tribunal this week

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Sarah Mbuyi, who lost her job after saying that God's pattern for marriage involves 'one man and one woman' is presenting her case to the Employment Tribunal this week (2nd-5th March).

Sarah, who worked at Newpark Childcare in Shepherd's Bush, was dismissed in January 2014 after a colleague raised the issue of what the Bible teaches on homosexuality. The colleague felt unhappy that she could not marry her female partner because of the Church, and said that she thought God condoned homosexuality.

Sarah explained: “When I said ‘No, God does not condone the practice of homosexuality, but does love you and says you should come to Him as you are’, she became emotional and went off to report me to my manager.”

At an internal disciplinary hearing on 8th January 2014, Sarah was confronted with her colleague’s allegations including that her colleague had taken offence at being given a bible as a gift by Sarah.

On 9 January 2014, the nursery directors dismissed Sarah for gross misconduct for having breached the equality policy of the nursery.

Sarah had previously discussed matters of faith and religion without any offence being taken.

“My disciplinary hearing was hopelessly one-sided. It seemed to me they had already made up their minds to justify sacking me, before hearing my side of the story,” said Sarah.

“It is obvious that we live in a climate where being Christ-like—following the Bible as much as we can—and being open and honest about that, is a problem now.”

Freedom of movement rights

Sarah, who is an EU national (Belgium) is using EU Law to claim unfair dismissal and is exercising freedom of movement rights under Article 45 of the Treaty on the Function of the European Union. She also has the protection of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

These EU Rights are “directly effective” and must be respected by the UK, meaning any conflicting rule of national law must be set aside. The UK is bound to respect the social norms of other EU States and the religious views of workers who come to the UK.

There is now growing concern that the current levels of discrimination against Christians in the UK mean that Christians from the EU will not seek work in the UK because of a lack of protection for their human rights. On 29th January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed Resolution 2036 (2015) on “Tackling intolerance and discrimination in Europe with a special focus on Christians” in response to examples of disrespect for the rights of Christians.

The Resolution was based on the Report of Mr Valeriu Ghiletchi (Moldova) who is a member of the Committee on Equality and Non- Discrimination and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. His Report expresses dismay at the cases from the UK. 

First challenge under EU law

The Resolution recognises the fact that the UK is now becoming internationally renowned for its discrimination against Christians and Sarah’s case will be the first challenge under EU Law.

Sarah will claim that Newpark Childcare in Shepherd's Bush applied policies arbitrarily and in an illegal manner. She will tell the panel that employees have the right to enter into conversations with adult co-employees subject to the normal principles of engagement in speech. 

'Culture of fear'

Andrea Williams commented: “Sharing Biblical truths out of genuine love for colleagues is being outlawed in the workplace by an oppressive ‘cultural correctness’. There is a culture of fear which shuts down freedom of speech and the expression of faith.

“It’s indicative of the sad state we’re in that we’re using EU Law in Sarah’s case because she was prevented from living out her faith in a country which once led the world in freedom and justice.

“This culture tries to portray the liberating good news of the Gospel as oppressive and regressive. Sarah’s case demonstrates the confusion we’re experiencing in current times.”

Read more about Sarah's case here.