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Appeals heard regarding Christian actress fired for Facebook post on gay marriage

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Credit: Christian Concern

On Thursday the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London heard a number of appeals to the decision to reject witness statements defending a Christian actress who posted about gay marriage. 

Seyi Omooba allegedly lost her role in the play 'The Colour Purple' due to a Facebook post four years ago in which she expressed opposition to same-sex marriage. 

Omooba is suing the Leicester Curve Theatre after she says it dropped her from the lead role, which is often interpreted as a lesbian character, due to the Facebook post in 2014. Omooba is also taking action against Global Artists Agency after they refused to work with her if she did not retract her comments. Omooba is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre - part of Christian Concern - and is claiming discrimination and breach of contract.

One of those backing Omooba's case is theatre critic and writer for the Spectator Lloyd Evans, who insisted that it is "not of any importance for an actor to agree with the ethical views or the feelings of a character in a play". 

"Were that necessary," he added in his submission the court, "the art of drama would not exist, and many of the plays we regard as classics would be impossible to stage."

Ahead of the hearing, Miss Omooba said: “The theatre gave me the choice to either retract a statement regarding my faith or lose my job. I could not do this, not even to save the career that I love. The agency made a decision to terminate my contract based on false information.

“As I continue to seek justice I call on the courts to allow this expert evidence to be heard.”

The Facebook post in question was dug out by fellow actor and a screenshot posted to Twitter.

The post reads:

"Some Christians have completely misconceived the issue of Homosexuality, they have begun to twist the word of God. It is clearly evident in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 what the Bible says on this matter. I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexual practice is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean it is right.

"I do believe that everyone sins and falls into temptation but it’s by the asking of forgiveness, repentance and the grace of God that we overcome and live how God ordained us to. Which is that a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24. God loves everyone, just because He doesn’t agree with your decisions doesn’t mean He doesn’t love you. 

"Christians we need to step up and love but also tell the truth of God’s word. I am tired of lukewarm Christianity, be inspired to stand up for what you believe and the truth #our God is three in one #God (Father) #Jesus Christ (Son) #Holy Spirit.”

The Leicester Curve Theatre said the post was "deeply offensive to the LGBTQ community”.

Speaking to Premier about the case, Christian Concern's Tim Dieppe said that Thursday's hearing was to challenge the court's rejection of expert witness statements submitted in the case. 

"This hearing is about details of the case," he said. "And the particular details are about whether these expert reports can be accepted."

Dieppe added that the hearing also addressed issues regarding where and how the full hearing takes place, and "whether the full case can be held over Skype or streaming in some form, rather than waiting for Coronavirus to end".  

Dieppe noted that the controversy had "put [Seyi's] career on hold completely". 

"Nobody is offering her positions in musicals, at the moment, in spite of how incredibly talented and gifted she is," he said. "But she knows that that's her gifting. She knows that's her calling, she knows that that's these gifts and things that God has given her. And she wants to use them again and believes that she will be able to use them again." 

Dieppe said that the hearing will properly continue in February 2021, after being postponed for ten months due to Covid-19.

"Part of the argument today is we don't want it postponed anymore," he added.

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