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UK News

Pastor wins Gay Pride tweet case

by Alex Collett

A Pastor who was given a final written warning over a Gay Pride tweet has won a court case ruling that he has the right to express his religious views online.

Keith Waters, 55, who was a school caretaker at the time, at the Isle of Ely Primary School in Cambridgeshire  said he felt he was forced out of his job as a result of his tweet.

Mr Waters who is now a minister at an evangelical church at West Street Evangelical Church, Carshalton, south London, had accused school chiefs of religious discrimination and constructive dismissal.

It was after he was accused of homophobia and some parents wrote to the school to complain.

Mr Waters had claimed in his tweet that the Gay Pride movement was "harmful" to children back in June 2019.

At a hearing in January at a Cambridge employment tribunal, the judge Sarah King, went in favour of the Pastor, of Mr Waters freedom to express his beliefs on human identity on social media.

The ruling also found that Christian pastors who have employment alongside their biblical faith are free to express their faith online, without losing their jobs.

Following the ruling Mr Waters said: "I stand by what I said. 

"This is not just victory for me but for Christian Evangelical Leaders across the country.

"I pray this ruling will help protect pastors in the future who have to work part time in other jobs to make up their income."

"I took legal action, not because I wanted to sue the school, but because what happens to me goes to the heart of what it means to be free to preach the gospel in the UK."

A spokesman for the Active Learning Trust, which runs the school, said in a statement to Premier: "The Active Learning Trust and its schools seek to promote a tolerant and informed view of the world and holds no political, cultural or religious affiliations.

“The case centred around a Tweet posted by Mr Keith Waters that resulted in a number of complaints to the school. The employment tribunal acknowledged the school was required to investigate these complaints, and did so in a reasonable and non-discriminatory way, particularly as those views within the content of the Tweet are not the views of the school.

“We welcome the decision of the employment tribunal that the claims of direct discrimination and unfair dismissal were not well founded and were dismissed.

“We are also pleased that the tribunal recognised that our policies pursue the important legitimate aim of protecting the school and Trust, eliminating offence by its employees caused to others, preventing social conflict and upholding its legal equality obligation and duty.

“We also note the tribunal’s findings on the issuing of a warning and we will be taking the time to consider our position on this finding.”

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