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Bus driver suspended for personal beliefs

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A Norwich bus driver has been suspended and is now facing investigation after refusing to drive a vehicle branded with the Pride rainbow colours.

He reportedly told passengers in Norwich: “I am not driving this bus because it promotes homosexuality,” before asking passengers to “wait a minute” while he swapped buses.

Bus operator Konectbus, which is owned by countrywide bus company Go-Ahead, previously promoted Norwich gay Pride on 27 July. Following on from the event, the bus company has lit up the service numbers on several bus routes, including the 501, in the colours of the Pride rainbow flag.

19-year-old sixth form student, Rebecca Sears, lodged a complaint with the bus station’s front desk as the driver moved to another vehicle to allow passengers to board. She also took to Twitter to post two photographs of the bus driver and voice her complaint to her 139 followers:

“Today I was waiting for the 501 bus to Thickthorn and we were told by the driver we had to wait for him to swap buses as 'this bus promotes homosexuality and I refuse to drive it' due to the multicoloured '501' sign. Norwich doesn't appreciate homophobia,” she tweeted.

“I'm aware everyone is entitled to their own views however, if you can't do your job properly because of your bigotry, maybe you need rethink your choices,” she continued in a thread. “@nparkandride @BBCLookEast please call out a system that allows homophobes and bigots to get away with things like this, it’s 2019 people need to grow up and be more accepting.”

Konectbus replied to her tweet, saying: “As a company we do not condone any behaviour from our drivers that does not support this view. The driver involved in this incident has been suspended and a full investigation is underway.”

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern commented: “The decision of the Supreme Court in Ashers Bakery case has made it clear that everyone is entitled to refuse to promote a message they disagree with — be that by baking a cake, driving a bus, or in whatever other way. So long as the driver's objection was to the message, not to the messenger, he has not discriminated against anyone and has broken no law.

“If the driver's objection to the rainbow colours was based on his religious or philosophical beliefs, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against him because of those beliefs. Employers have to be very careful in handling such situations, because in the eyes of the law, discrimination on the grounds of beliefs is just as bad as discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.”