A Canberra-based entertainment company has fired a Christian woman after she publicly indicated that she would vote no in Australia’s same-sex marriage postal survey.
According to a report from Triple J Hack, a woman who identified herself as Madeline was fired from her job at Capital Kids Parties (CKP) on Sunday after she added a temporary Facebook filter on her profile photo saying “It’s OK to Vote No.”
She was told in a Facebook message from her employer, Madlin Sims, that she could no longer work for the company because “homophobic views being made public are detrimental to the business.”
Sims later claimed on Facebook that Madeline was “extremely out and proud about her views on homosexuals,” but the 18-year-old employee said that this was the only time she publicly expressed her views on same-sex marriage. By the time Madeline was fired, the Facebook filter had already expired.
“I’m not afraid to stand up for my beliefs and being a Christian,” said Madeline, who was friends with Sims’ younger brother.
“Everyone else is putting up these Vote Yes filters, and there’s one filter that says it’s OK to vote No. I thought I don’t have to put this up but I don’t have to stay silent,” she added.
When she added the filter to her profile on Aug. 29, Sims’ younger brother asked her to take it down.
Sims said that Madeline refused to remove the post and “verbally attacked” her brother, but the employee denied the claim.
“I was very calm and didn’t think anything was aggressive. I told him my beliefs and my views and explained myself,” Madeline said.
In a Facebook post, Sims explained that she decided to fire Madeline because she believes that expressing intentions to vote against same-sex marriage was “hate speech.”
Sims noted that she had not received any complaints regarding Madeline’s views on same-sex marriage and even admitted that her decision to fire the employee was “bigoted.”
“What I did was bigoted,” she said. “But is it worse for me to be a bigot fighting for the rights of homosexuals or is it worse for her being a bigot telling people they can’t have equality?” she went on to say.
Scarlet Reid, an employment lawyer for Henry Davis York, said that Madeline will not be able to file an unfair dismissal claim against her employer as she did not have any formal agreement with CKP.
However, the lawyer said that Madeline has the option to file a discrimination claim on the basis of religion under Australia’s ACT Discrimination Act, which protects religious and political beliefs.
With a successful discrimination claim, the victim will be entitled to compensation for economic loss as well as non-economic losses like hurt and humiliation.
Madeline said that although she felt that her employer had discriminated against her on the basis of religion, she does not plan on taking her to court.
Sims said she believes that there were no grounds for an unfair dismissal claim or discrimination because she says Madeline was never an employee of CKP.