Rev Jeremy Pemberton (right) and his husband Laurence
A gay priest who was fired by the Church of England after he married another man is taking the church to court.
On Monday, Rev Jeremy Pemberton began his historic employment discrimination case against the Church of England over its withdrawal of his right to officiate as a priest.
He is also challenging its refusal to give him a licence to take up a hospital chaplaincy post.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is supporting the cleric in the case, being heard at the Nottingham Employment Tribunal.
“There are two human rights principles at stake in this case. Is the Church of England exempt from the laws prohibiting workplace discrimination and is it entitled to discriminate against gay clergy who have been lawfully married in a civil ceremony?” noted Tatchell.
In June 2014, Pemberton was offered the role of Chaplaincy Manager at the King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield.
The job offer was withdrawn because the church refused to give Jeremy the required licence, simply because he had legally married his partner Laurence a month earlier.
“This strikes me as a clear case of employment discrimination. The Church of England has no right to seek exemption from the anti-discrimination laws that apply to everyone else.
“It is disgraceful homophobia to deprive a priest of his right to work because he married the man he loves. Discrimination is not a Christian value,” added Tatchell.
The case is similar to that of lesbian Western Cape Methodist minister Ecclesia de Lange who was fired for marrying a woman in 2010. After a five year legal battle, de Lange announced in February that she is taking her case to the Constitutional Court.