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Gay man takes C of E bishop to employment tribunal

An employment tribunal in Cardiff is to decide the case of a youth worker who has accused a Church of England bishop of sexual discrimination.

John Reaney, 41, from Colwyn Bay, has accused the Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, 59, of refusing to allow him to be appointed to a post of youth worker on account of his sexuality.

Judgement in the case has been reserved for a few weeks and the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance denies the sexual discrimination allegations.

Reverend Priddis has admitted that he blocked Mr Reaney's appointment, claiming to have acted in his best interests by making the decision, but denies discrimination.

The Church of England's policy states that all homosexual staff must remain celibate. Mr Reaney has just ended a five-year homosexual relationship when he applied for the post of youth worker and assured the bishop that he would not start another gay affair.

He told the tribunal that he was asked questions about his sex life and sexuality that he would not have been asked if he had been heterosexual. Mr Reaney also accused the Church of England of inconsistency in its attitude towards gay people as he had previously worked as youth officer for the Norwich and Chester Church of England diocese.

Gay rights charity Stonewall Cymru funded Mr Reaney's legal challenge under 2003 employment laws outlawing discrimination against people on grounds of their sexual orientation. However, the law contains an exemption for organised religion and Mr Reaney's tribunal is a test case.