A Christian group which had a booking for its annual event at Cambridge University refused on the grounds of its Christian beliefs is challenging the decision, arguing it is discriminatory and unlawful.
After initially approving the week-long Wilberforce Academy conference, Fitzwilliam College reversed its decision, stating that “the College has decided not to accept the booking on the grounds that the event is not compatible with the values of the College”. When clarification was sought about the decision, a representative of the College confirmed that it was because the group was not “inclusive”, did “not believe in gay marriage” and that Christian Concern’s “general beliefs” were “not compatible with the values of the college.”
Wilberforce Academy, an initiative of Christian Concern, facilitates the annual conference to provide a forum for young Christian professionals to “work out how to apply their Christian faith in the current culture, and more specifically within their chosen vocations, including in law, politics, education, media, arts and business”.
Lawyers for the group will argue that the decision is unlawful, and that the College is in breach of its duties under the Education Act 1986, arguing that the College has “directly discriminated against the group on the grounds of its religious and philosophical beliefs”.
In addition, the decision appears to directly contradict the University’s commitment to free speech, which states “the University expects its staff, students and visitors to be tolerant of the differing opinions of others, in line with the University’s core value of freedom of expression.”
Chief executive of Christian Concern Andrea Williams has said:
The event was cancelled casually and abruptly as though Christian beliefs on marriage are illegal and therefore discrimination of this nature is an acceptable norm. For senior members of a world-renowned college to show such brazen discrimination of Christian beliefs should concern anyone who cares about Christian freedoms and free speech. We are concerned how students at Fitzwilliam College who hold orthodox Christian beliefs might be being intimidated into silence on campus.
As Christians around the world continue to be targeted for their beliefs, it is important that breaches of the law and acts of discrimination against people of faith are legally challenged. This isn’t only happening in the UK. It is happening right here in Australia as well:
- The Australian Christian Lobby was rejected by a WA government body in July 2021 from hiring two WA venues for a conference because the ACL’s Christian beliefs purportedly did not represent the views of the WA Government and western Australians.
- Hannah and her friend were banned from a café for reading the Bible and praying during a lunch engagement. HRLA helped Hannah and her friend obtain an apology from the café for their unjust discrimination.
- Max was fired for raising a conscientious objection to the transgendering of a vulnerable child at the school where he was teaching. HRLA helped Max achieve a favourable settlement and retraction of the dismissal.
HRLA continues to provide advice and assistance to people and organisations in Australia that are under attack for living out their faith.
If you’re seeking legal advice, assistance or advocacy, please visit our Get Legal Help page.
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