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Gay priest denied job after marrying partner loses discrimination appeal

Canon Jeremy Pemberton was prevented from taking up a post as a hospital chaplain in Nottinghamshire after marrying his partner Credit: PA

A gay clergyman stopped from working as a hospital chaplain has lost his appeal over a discrimination claim against the Church of England.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton, a Church of England priest for more than 30 years, had his permission to officiate revoked after he married Laurence Cunnington in April 2014.

He was also denied a licence to officiate in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, which left him unable to take up a job offer at the King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Pemberton accused the Church of breaching the 2010 Equality Act, but lost an appeal against the employment tribunal in 2016.

The Court of Appeal, which heard the case in January, has also now dismissed his claim.

Speaking about the court's ruling, Pemberton said: "This will seem to most people in the UK today an extraordinary result, and not one that will help commend the claims of Christ to the nation.

"The need for a revolution in attitudes and practices in the Church towards this minority is still acute - we continue to wait for real change."

I have no difficulty understanding how profoundly upsetting Canon Pemberton must find the Church of England's official stance on same-sex marriage and its impact on him.

But it does not follow that it was reasonable for him to regard his dignity as violated, or an 'intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive' environment as having been created for him, by the Church applying its sincerely-held beliefs in a way expressly permitted by Schedule 9 of the (Equality) Act.

If you belong to an institution with known, and lawful rules, it implies no violation of dignity, and it is not cause for reasonable offence, that those rules should be applied to you - however wrong you may believe them to be.

Not all opposition of interests is hostile or offensive.

– Lord Justice Underhill