Published: 15:12, 13 February 2018
A Christian magistrate who says he was sacked for his views on gay adoption is suing the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice for religious discrimination.
Richard Page, 71, told a tribunal that he lost his role on the bench after simply expressing his personal view that a child up for adoption would be better looked after by a man and a woman rather than a gay couple during a BBC interview.
Mr Page was removed from the magistracy by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice for serious misconduct after the TV interview was screened.
The comments came after Mr Page, along with two other magistrates, considered an application by a same-sex couple to adopt a child in Kent in July 2014.
Mr Page rejected a claim in a social worker's report that homosexual couples made better adoptive parents than straight couples back and turned down the application.
A complaint was made by his colleagues and he was reprimanded by the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor in December that year.
Afterwards he was interviewed by number of different media outlets defending his position, before he went on BBC Breakfast to discuss the issues around same sex adoption in march 2015.
In that interview he said: "My responsibility as a magistrate as I saw it was to do what I considered best for the child, and my feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and a woman who were adopted parents."
Following those comments he was eventually sacked for serious misconduct in March 2016 by then Justice Secretary Michael Gove and Lord Thomas, who said his comments suggested he was "biased and prejudiced against single sex adopters".
A few days later the NHS Trust Development Authority suspended him from his role as a non-executive director at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.
He is now suing the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice for religious discrimination at Croydon Employment Tribunal in south London.
Setting out his decision in the adoption case, he said: "I hold the view that it is in the best interest of the child to have both a mother and a father, and I believe this to be a lawful and reasonable position for a family court judge to hold.
"It could be that an adoption by a same sex couple or a single person is in the best interest of the child, but a report would need to satisfy me of that.
"I believe this is a reasonable and fair position, and not one of discrimination."
After the case his fellow magistrates made a formal complaint, claiming he had applied his Christian beliefs to make his decision.
Mr Page said: "While my colleagues are of course entitled to their views that one must be homophobic to disagree with same sex parenting, I am equally entitled to the view that a child needs a mother and a father, and that experimenting with a child is unethical and likely to add to an already unhappy life.
"There is a subtle difference between believing that a child should have a mother and a father, and being prejudiced to same sex couples. Sadly I was portrayed as homophobic and I refute this."
The tribunal heard by the time he went on BBC News he had been reprimanded by the Lord Chief Justice and had undertaken equality training while keeping his position as magistrate.
However he spoke to the media on several occasions and had been reminded three times on guidance about members of the judiciary speaking to the press and warned if he did it again it could be treated a conduct matter.
Mr Page then took part in the BBC interview and was referred to a disciplinary panel.
The disciplinary report from September 2015 said the BBC interview "would have undoubtedly caused any reasonable person to conclude that he would be biased and prejudiced against single sex adopters".
Mr Page said: "It is unfair to presume that I refused an application by a gay couple because I am a Christian.
"The premise of the decision against me is an unfair stereotypical assumption that Christians are prejudiced against homosexuals.
"I considered that I was a victim of discrimination for my Christian beliefs, and the public had a right to know about that worrying development."
In his conclusion he said: "I was not prepared to be a lamb slaughtered on the alter of political correctness, especially when the interests of children and the rule of law is at stake."
During cross examination today he was asked if he was biased against the gay couple to which, he said: "I'm not biased against the couple.
"I am in favour of the child and what is best for them.
"It is normal for a man and a woman to have a child, and therefore it's best for a child to be brought up by a man and a woman, or husband or wife.
"I considered that I was a victim of discrimination for my Christian beliefs, and the public had a right to know about that worrying development" - Richard Page
"I am not judging the people, I'm judging what's best for the child."
When asked if homosexual activity was a sin, he said: "Homosexual activity is a sin; not being a homosexual, but homosexual activity.
"It's like prostitution or having sex outside of marriage is a sin. Homosexual activity is biblically a sin."
He maintained in the hearing that he did not apply his Christian beliefs to the adoption case, but did admit his beliefs would have helped form his thought process.
He said: "Obviously I'm a Christian and my thought process must be based on Christianity.
"Every magistrate and Judge has to make their own decisions on their own thought process."
The hearing continues.
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