A Bristol based counsellor is claiming he was sacked after voicing concerns that his Christian beliefs might prevent him giving sex therapy to gay couples according to the Bristol Evening Post.
It is reported that Gary McFarlane is taking the Bristol branch of counselling service Relate to an employment tribunal on December 1. He intends to claim unfair dismissal on grounds of religious discrimination, saying that his supervisors refused to accommodate his religious beliefs.
Mr McFarlane told the newspaper “At the time it was happening people were being very, very sensitive about Muslim issues. It would have been very different if that was my religion. It feels like Christians are being bashed around. As a sector we do have some rights and I’m taking this issue up to help others in my situation who might have left it.”
“Relate are supposed to be at the forefront of tackling issues like this.” he continued.
According to the paper, In his early years as a counsellor he says he helped two lesbian couples resolve conflicts and worked through his qualms about homosexuality and that he also received a letter from one same-sex couple who thanked him for his help.
A rift is reported to have appeared between him and his supervisors once he began training to be a psychosexual therapist as he felt that he might find encounter difficulties treating intimate problems of same sex partners. Upon talking to his supervisor they felt that they may be open to accusations of discriminations if Mr McFarlane took issue with consulting with same sex couples.
“I felt that sex therapy is more directive than counselling more like a doctor’s role in asking each couple multiple questions and setting out a treatment plan.
In January this year Mr McFarlane was suspended. He says he decided to comply with Relate’s policies and was reinstated after three weeks but that some of his colleagues launched a petition calling for him to be dismissed.
A Relate spokeswoman is reported to have said that the group could not comment until the employment tribunal has taken place.