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Sacked Christian actress lodges appeal against tribunal ruling

by Press Association
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A Christian actress sacked from her role as a lesbian character in a musical over an allegedly anti-gay Facebook post will appeal against an employment tribunal ruling.

Seyi Omooba, 26, brought a case for around £128,000 against a theatre trust and her former agents after being dropped as the lead character in a stage production of The Colour Purple in 2019.

Her claims of discrimination, harassment and breach of contract were rejected by the Central London Employment Tribunal panel in February.

In its judgment, the panel dismissed the suggestion her sacking by the Leicester Theatre Trust and talent agency Global Artists was due to discrimination against her religious beliefs.

The Christian Legal Centre, a group supporting Omooba’s claim, confirmed she would appeal against the ruling.

Ms Omooba was removed from her role as Celie, who is sometimes portrayed as being in a lesbian relationship, when a Facebook post she wrote in 2014 emerged.

It read: “I do not believe you can be born gay and I do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal it doesn’t make it right.”

The tribunal heard a “storm of adverse comment” followed on social media and theatre bosses became concerned at the “speed and savagery” of the reaction.

Hamilton actor Aaron Lee Lambert was among those who attacked Ms Omooba as a “hypocrite” for acting in the play.

The tribunal panel said the theatre’s decision was made as a result of the backlash and the effect it would have on the play’s success.

It said the dismissal was due to “the effect of the adverse publicity from (the post’s) retweet, without modification or explanation, on the cohesion of the cast, the audience’s reception, the reputation of the producers and ‘the good standing and commercial success’ of the production”.

The tribunal panel also rejected her demands for compensation for loss of earnings, future losses and reputational damage as a result of her agency contract being terminated.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said on Wednesday: “The tribunal ruled that the theatre and agency had acted for commercial reasons rather than because they intended to discriminate.

“The judgment ignores the distinction, well-known in discrimination law, between the discriminatory act and the discriminator’s motives.

“The motives may be entirely benign; but that is no defence.”

Ms Williams added: “The tribunal has effectively joined the campaign of ‘cancelling’ Seyi for her Christian beliefs.

“She and we are not intimidated and we have now lodged an appeal.”

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