Christian Actor Sacked Because of Allegedly Homophobic Facebook Post
Hello and welcome to our weekly case law update. Today’s case concerns an actress who was sacked because of an allegedly homophobic Facebook post.
Seyi Omooba was an actor represented by Global Artists. In 2019, she landed the lead role in the play ‘The Color Purple’.
The play centres around a character who has a particularly disturbing upbringing. She is raped by her father and then married off to be a housewife to a man she does not love.
However, she finds redemption in the man’s wife. It transpires that she is a lesbian.
Difficulties arose when it was discovered Ms. Omooba was an ardent Christian who considered homosexuality to be morally wrong.
In a Facebook post from 2014, she wrote “Some Christians have completely misconceived the issue of Homosexuality, they have begun to twist the word of God. it is clearly evident in 1 Corinthians 6:9 -11 what the bible says on this matter. I do not believe you can be born gay, and i do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean its right. I do believe that everyone sins and falls into temptation but its by the asking of forgiveness, repentance and the grace of God that we overcome and live how God ordained us too, which is that a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24. God loves everyone, just because he doesn’t agree with your decisions doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Christians we need to step up and love but also tell the truth of God’s word. I am tired of lukewarm Christianity, be inspired to stand up for what you believe and the truth # our God is three in one # God (Father) #Christ (son) #Holy Spirit”.
The re-emergence of this post sparked outrage on social media, and a campaign to have her removed from the role ensued.
Ms. Omooba did not back down. She said that she does not dislike homosexual people, but thinks homosexual acts are morally wrong. She cited her right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
The agency and the theatre cut ties with her and officially removed her from the role of lead.
She brought a case in the Employment Tribunal stating that she had been discriminated against because of her religious beliefs. The case was brought by the Christian Legal Centre, and she was represented by a Mr. Pavel Stroilov, who has been quite active in recent months, defending several Christians dismissed (as they alleged) for their Christian beliefs.
The tribunal found that Ms. Omooba was not dismissed because of her religious beliefs, but because her remaining in the role of lead was commercially unviable. There had been considerable backlash to her role in the production, and by its very nature the play was not one that would be viewed by the general population. Rather, it was marketed mainly towards the LGBTQ community, as it is (as alleged by the Respondent) a film about sexual liberation. Therefore, if Ms. Omooba remined in her role, unapologetic about her beliefs, the theatre company risked alienating the very group they were aiming to market the play to.
This is quite an interesting case that represents the challenge faced by pluralist democracies in which people from all different walks of life, live and work alongside each other. On the one hand, Ms. Omooba is entitled to her beliefs and should not be treated unfavourably because of them. On the other hand, her views are offensive to many, and they may damage an employer’s reputation.
It is also important to note that Ms. Omooba did not consider the play to be about a lesbian relationship. She had read the book as a child and considered it to be about spiritual, as opposed to sexual, enlightenment. This may explain why she took the role in the first place. Nonetheless, it is an interesting case that highlights the complexity of balancing views in the modern world.