‘Gay bus’ row: Christian Legal Centre enters the fray

‘Gay bus’ row: Christian Legal Centre enters the fray August 17, 2019

EARLIER this month a bus driver in the UK city of Norwich was suspended for refusing to drive a bus that ‘promotes homosexuality’ by having its service number displayed in rainbow colours.

Images via YouTube and Church Militant

We now learn via Church Militant that Andrea Minichiello Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre and Champion of Persecuted Jesusites Everywhere, inset, has weighed in, saying:

If the driver’s objection to the rainbow colours was based on his religious or philosophical beliefs, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against him because of those beliefs. Employers have to be very careful in handling such situations, because in the eyes of the law, discrimination on the grounds of beliefs is just as bad as discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The decision of the Supreme Court in Ashers Bakery case has made it clear that everyone is entitled to refuse to promote a message they disagree with — be that by baking a cake, driving a bus, or in whatever other way. So long as the driver’s objection was to the message, not to the messenger, he has not discriminated against anyone and has broken no law.

The driver’s suspension came after he told passengers at Norwich Bus Station that they would have to “wait a minute” for him to swap buses

I am not driving this bus because it promotes homosexuality.

Passenger Rebecca Sears, 19, lodged a complaint at the bus station’s front desk as the driver moved to another double-decker vehicle and allowed passengers to board.

One of two pictures of the homophobic driver posted ion Twitter by Rebecca Sears

The sixth form student, who posted two pictures of the driver on Twitter, said that he was in his fifties with gray hair. She tweeted:

Norwich doesn’t appreciate homophobia … I’m aware everyone is entitled to their own views however, if you can’t do your job properly because of your bigotry, maybe you need rethink your choices.

Konectbus replied to her tweet, saying:

As a company we do not condone any behaviour from our drivers that does not support this view. The driver involved in this incident has been suspended and a full investigation is underway

Meanwhile, CitizenGO has launched an online petition addressed to Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director of Konectbus, seeking the immediate reinstatement of the driver. It accuses Sears of being “intolerant” and says:

An increasing number of people are becoming uncomfortable with the corporatisation of the rainbow flag and Pride symbol for a variety of different reasons. Pride marches are not family-friendly, they often feature public displays of nakedness and sexual behaviour and celebrate sexual fetishes.

Pride isn’t family-friendly? Really? This image of Desmond, aged 10, wowing the crowds at New York Pride in 2017, suggests otherwise. Image via YouTube.

It added:

Were employees consulted before the re-branding of their buses, or given the option to switch vehicles? Was the driver informed that he would be required to promote LGBT causes on behalf of the company as part of his employment contract? Does this mean that those from religious minorities may not become employees of Konect or their parent company, the Go-Ahead group?

Image via YouTube

Catholic journalist Caroline Farrow, above, UK Campaign Director for CitizenGO told Church Militant:

If anyone is intolerant it is the young woman who seeks to see a middle-aged man deprived of his income and publicly humiliated simply for expressing views with which she disagrees. It is also very concerning that an employee of Konectbuses has suggested that this man’s dismissal is a forgone conclusion, meaning that he cannot expect to go through due process. If his direct line manager is gay, as has been suggested, clearly, the company is discriminating against religious minorities in allowing one particular ideology to prevail.

Farrow’s petition has so far garnered over 20,000 signatures.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • barriejohn

    There’s so much wrong with what they are saying (again) that one doesn’t know where to begin. He wasn’t suspended for “expressing views with which [a passenger] disagrees”; he refused to do his job. And driving the bus is hardly “promoting LGBT causes”. Postmen are going to be sifting through our mail next to see whether a leaflet of which they disapprove has been inserted in a magazine that they are delivering. And promoting the rights of minorities, or being born gay, is not an “ideology”; that’s ridiculous.

    PS I object to the rainbow that appears in the sky. It’s a constant reminder of the God whom I am supposed to hate so much. I want it removed. To whom do I make my objection known?

  • Raymond Metcalfe

    As any one seen public nakedness at a pride parade I wonder.

  • epeeist

    Andrea Minichiello Williams

    Why choose a picture which only shows her head. I want to see a picture that shows her pockets, they must be incredibly deep considering the number of cases she loses.

  • kaydenpat

    So because of his religious beliefs, the busload of passengers had to be inconvenienced. What if all of the buses had the Pride logo? Then what?

  • barriejohn

    Funny how they know everything that goes on at Gay Pride parades!

  • barriejohn

    And her cloven hooves.

  • barriejohn

    I think they actually enjoy losing cases. It confirms their belief in their “special”, persecuted status:

    “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (I John 5:19 NASB)

  • GShelley

    I would hope this goes nowhere and the case they cited has little if anything to do with it, but the UK has some pretty bad laws

  • epeeist
  • ManxStuart

    Easy enough solution I’d have thought.

    Advertising on buses subsidises the cost of transport. If you don’t like the advert on the bus you’re asked to drive, pay for your own advert (e.g. “This bus is driven by a homophobic fool”) and drive the one that appears on instead. I’m sure the CLC or one of their rich American friends would help.

    What’s that? Oh, they only run campaigns they PROFIT from, not ones they believe in enough to actually fund and put their spare time into, like the rest of the population?

  • Raging Bee

    Yeah, as usual the wingnuts are upholding the deeply-held religious beliefs of insubordinate employees, and ignoring those of the paying clients.

  • Raging Bee

    But they won’t take any photos to prove their allegations…because they know how offensive such photos would be, I guess…

  • Raging Bee

    I can buy a 69lesbian on a UK bus?! 69DAYAM, I gotta move there and start using their public transit system! I winder if WMATA can don something similar to finance their ongoing repairs and upgrades…

  • Raging Bee

    Postmen are going to be sifting through our mail next to see whether a
    leaflet of which they disapprove has been inserted in a magazine that
    they are delivering.

    The USPS did just that, on a national scale, in the early 20th century. So yes, the fascists WILL start doing that again, if we give them half a chance.

  • Raging Bee

    Move to another planet that doesn’t have rainbows, and then sue for discrimination when we don’t ship you a steady supply of oxygen.

  • wannabe

    Um, this was the UK so the US Supreme Court’s decisions are not applicable.

    But how would you feel if the situation was in the US and the bus company had posters on the side of many buses, like “Atlanta Transport: We stand with the President and secure borders”? Any problems with conscience there?

  • rubaxter

    Wow, witless Brain of a Bachmann and stunned Soccermom look of a Palin.

    Well done, England. I’d say ‘UK’, but if this is around for a few years people might have forgotten what that meant.

  • barriejohn

    Many corporations support right-wing politicians, and many make political donations. I think that’s something you just have to live with. If it were a case of supporting racist parties one might have to make a stand, and resignation might be one’s only option, especially in the USA. As Ms Sears said: ” I’m aware everyone is entitled to their own views however, if you can’t do your job properly because of your bigotry, maybe you need rethink your choices.” We’ve seen before that when dealing with the public you can’t take an extreme position and expect that to be accommodated by your employer.

  • kaydenpat

    What you’re referring to is politics and not religious. Apples and oranges.

  • persephone

    Every time I go to CVS, an option to contribute to charity pops up on the payment display. I have a lot of disorders so I’m in CVS several times a month. Do I have a frea99kout when they are collecting for a charity I don’t like? No, because I’m an adult. Do I frea99kout because of all the requests? No, because I’m an adult.

    The favoritism shown to Christians is disgusting. When Somali cab drivers in Minneapolis refused to transport passengers with alcohol or dogs, they received suspensions, and many of them went on to other jobs. But if a Christian doesn’t want to do something, it’s A-Okay.

  • They are, nevertheless, pockets of resistance.

  • Winning is better, but losing is also a useful outcome, for the same reason as the silence of a pit canary.

  • Stephen Harvie

    Leather-faced harridan and professional shit-stirrer Andrea Mini Cello Williams can be guaranteed to lose any case she sticks her oar into!

  • The “little” this has to do with the Asher’s case, is the idea of freedom of expression prohibiting forced complicity in the expression of messages with which one disagrees.

  • barriejohn

    You’re living in cloud cuckoo land. There are millions of people working in printing, advertising, newspapers, TV and radio, IT, libraries, etc, who are “complicit in the expression of messages with which they disagree”. It’s part of their job, but no one assumes that they endorse all those views – in fact, that would be impossible!

  • “It’s part of their job”

    Fair enough. However, I think the bus driver would probably point out that it wasn’t part of a bus driver’s job to promote the LGBT cause.

  • barriejohn

    When I began teaching, I was a member of the Plymouth Brethren. There were many things that I could have objected to, but one has to be sensible in such circumstances. If not, then get another job or teach in a religious school. The headmaster had come across Exclusive Brethren who refused to take their meals with the rest of the staff, which I think is ridiculous. In the old days, buses bore massive adverts for alcohol, cigarettes, and, of course, the football pools. I doubt that any drivers then would have thought that they were “promoting” such things merely by driving the vehicle, nor would anyone have accused them of that. Some people are just looking for an excuse to make a fuss.

  • I doubt the rainbow-themed bus number was paid-for advertising, as you (and others) seem to be supposing.

    Don’t you think that the people “making a fuss” here are Rebecca Sears and whoever decided to suspend the driver, making a mountain out of a molehill? All the driver did was took a different bus, allegedly explaining that the reason he took that initiative was that he didn’t want to drive a bus that was promoting homosexuality. I’d have done the same myself, in what I take the circumstances to be.

    Should the suspended bus driver simply accept that this initiative on his part amounted to not doing his job properly, misconduct deserving of disciplinary action against him? There is no suggestion that the bus left late because he took the opportunity to drive a different bus.

    This is a recurrent problem. Bosses make decisions that their firm is a pro-LGBT firm and expect their workers to dress up in special pro-LGBT uniforms, wear badges etc. that suggest that they too are pro-LGBT just like their bosses. (There have even been cases where bosses have tried to compel their workers to participate in Pride parades!)

    There was a case of such an issue over uniform at the National Trust not long ago. Such bullying of workers by bosses is degrading. It would not have been tolerated in the mid-twentieth century, when there was a strong Labour Movement. Rebecca Sears is too young to remember these times, when workers enjoyed greater freedom, poor her.

    Well, I take the liberal view on this. I don’t go as far as saying that there’s no such thing as a Christian business (as Gareth Lee is now pleading in the ECtHR, we learnt yhe same day as this story broke), or (by analogy) a pro-LGBT business for that matter. But I say that the fact that the owners of a business are pro-LGBT, or anti-LGBT, or Christian, or anti-Christian, does not allow them to impose their beliefs on all their staff whilst in the workplace, making them co-operate in the preaching of whatever idiosyncratic beliefs it is that the business’s owner holds. Unless, of course, that is in their contracts of employment, as an act of *permitted* discrimination, because the aims and objectives of firm are partisan, religious, ideological, opr otherwise non-neutral in today’s culture wars.

  • barriejohn

    No, I don’t think that they are “making a fuss”. I’ve had a varied career, and worked for a number of years for a company that ran a fleet of coaches, minibuses, etc. I’m all for flexibility, especially in larger companies, but a driver can’t just walk away from his vehicle. That ought to be a sackable offence, really. As far as I can see, the bus was merely showing the number and destination in rainbow colours, and not even bearing any “pro-gay” slogans, but whatever the case, why didn’t he approach the management with his concerns?

  • barriejohn

    I’m sorry you can’t keep up with me. See my answer below; if he abandoned his vehicle he was asking for it!

  • 24CaratHooligan

    “for sincere and well thought-out reasons” Because a 2000 year old book tells them to.

  • firebubbles310

    To be fair, Christianity, at least fundie Christianity is tied to the Republican Party now.

  • JDale

    Thankyou for using Andrea Minichiello Williams full (3 word) name, as I know it annoys her 😉

  • Barry Duke
  • He didn’t walk away from “his” vehicle. He started his journey more-or-less on time, in one vehicle rather than another. If he’d told nobody why he’d chosen one vehicle rather than the other, he wouldn’t have been grassed up by a teenaged LGBT activist and then victimised by his boss. His only offence was that of a worker openly expressing a political opinion which was the very opposite of the opinion of his bosses.

  • barriejohn

    I think you’re talking nonsense now, so I’m finished!

  • The word “nonsense” refers to something that has no meaning, not something you have no reply to.

    This man’s decision to take one bus rather than another on his route isn’t what got him into trouble. He did his job fully.

    What got him into trouble was his confiding in a stranger that his reason for choosing one bus rather than another when he was able to do that, was his dissent from his employer’s support of the LGBT cause. It is that dissent for which he is being punished, not insubordination.

  • GShelley

    Or if it had “shop at Kroger” and you were a Meijer type of guy