Having been politically active while in the employment of housing provider L&Q since 2015, I was perplexed to suddenly find myself facing disciplinary action for political activity.
I had stood four times for Parliament, including in the Lewisham East by-election, as well as being No.1 on the list for the Christian People’s Alliance (CPA) for the London Assembly last year.
None of this activity caused any problems for L&Q.
The only problem arose when I stood this year to be mayor of Lewisham. As part of the process, each candidate is granted a full page in the mayoral booklet which goes out to every resident of Lewisham — over 200,000 people. For my contribution I produced a six-point plan which, along with plans to tackle knife crime and fly tipping, included the following statement:
I pledge to cut through political correctness and simply state the truth that natural marriage between a man and a woman is the fundamental building block for a successful society, and the safest environment for raising children.
Of the 200,000 residents, one of them decided this was “hate speech” and put forward a complaint to Lewisham Council demanding that the booklet be withdrawn. Lewisham Council politely informed them that it is up to each candidate to write what they like and they do not dictate the wording.
Next, however, came a complaint to my employer. Constant vicious posts were going up on social media with cries of feigned outrage and accusations of “hate speech”. Elements of the media began to pick them up and to contact the party headquarters and then myself.
An article appeared in the Guardian which was quite mild, followed by another much more forthright article in Pink News. Its article was headed “Christian candidate attacks same sex marriage in disgusting election leaflet”. My leaflet was called “anti-gay bile” though I didn’t actually mention homosexuality in the manifesto.
I assumed Christian beliefs were protected under the Equality Act
Pink News contacted my party’s office demanding answers. We sent a series of research pieces with evidence that demonstrated how children need a father and how married couples are significantly better parents, as well as some research which examined graduation rates and concluded that children of same-sex parents are significantly worse off. We also gave clear testimony from children who have grown up in same-sex households, demonstrating the detrimental effects it had on their lives. We asked Pink News to provide some research to back up its position that children are better off with same-sex parents — or at least no worse off. It couldn’t come up with anything at all.
This publicity, however, provoked a total of three complaints to my employer. The complainants accused me of being “homophobic” and discriminatory towards the LGBT community. All three demanded that I should receive “anti-oppressive training” and face disciplinary action.
I was immediately suspended pending investigation, but I still felt confident as I assumed Christian beliefs were protected under the Equality Act as much as homosexuality is. After all, I had not insulted or even criticised anyone — I had merely stated a clear Christian value.
Prevented from campaigning while suspended, I was investigated by L&Q and told that my case had nothing to do with Christianity. Although I outlined how L&Q was breaching articles 9 and 10 of the European Court of Human Rights, my employer was simply not interested.
Article 9 gives me the right to freedom of thought, belief and religion, and Article 10 the right to hold my own opinions and to express them freely without interference. These articles take precedence over companies’ diversity and inclusion policies.
Cancel culture intimidates dissenters by making examples of employees
Nonetheless, L&Q acted quickly. As soon as the election was over, it told me I was dismissed with immediate effect for defying the company’s inclusion policy, which appears not to include Christianity.
This is the first time that a political candidate has been penalised by their employer for political speech which is protected for very obvious reasons. The ramifications of this case cannot be overstated. Free speech is being attacked and eroded by cancel culture rapidly in the UK and around the world.
I believe free speech and Christian freedoms are fundamental aspects of democratic societies and must be protected at all costs. Our ability to freely express our views and openly disagree with each other is the core essence of democracies. The alternative is forced censorship and the threat of losing everything if you don’t comply.
What has happened to me does not bode well for the ordinary citizen who hopes to make a difference in their community and nation. What message does this vicious attack on a Christian politician and my Christian values send to other Christians who want to engage with politics? I am deeply concerned that what has happened will deter them, and that is why I have no choice but to fight for justice.
My case illuminates how cancel culture intimidates dissenters into silence by making examples of employees so that anybody else who considers being openly honest about their views on controversial subjects will think twice or face a similar fate.
Corporations such as L&Q are willing participants in the erosion of free speech. They do the dirty work of the woke mob under the guise of internal inclusion and diversity policies. This is not diversity, but a narrow commitment to progressive social values.
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