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Swedish lesbian pastor denied job for being 'one of those'

Published: 18 Jan 2011 17:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Jan 2011 17:06 GMT+01:00

A Swedish lesbian pastor who was passed over for a job with a diocese in central Sweden has accused the local vicar of discrimination.

The 39-year-old pastor was applying for a temporary position with the diocese in Strängnäs to fill an extended vacancy, which had for the time being been filled by retired pastor in his seventies.

While at first responding with enthusiasm upon receiving an application from the woman in June, the vicar subsequently told a fellow diocese employee that he knew the applicant was "one of those."

When the employee asked if the vicar was referring to the applicant pastor's sexual orientation, he added that he had promised the diocese leadership that none of "them" would be allowed to join the diocese.

He went on to express concerns about having a lesbian pastor and her girlfriend living on parish grounds and about having her instruct confirmation classes.

In early August, the pastor emailed another staff member at the diocese to inquire about the status of her application, but received a response that the person was on vacation.

In the message, she questioned why the parish would choose to have a retired pastor over a younger unemployed pastor.

Shortly thereafter, the vicar emailed the 39-year-old to say that her services were no longer required by the diocese and that the elderly pastor would continue in the position.

Two weeks after receiving the vicar's rejection, the lesbian pastor received a response from the staff member she had originally emailed which referred to the parish's preference for older pastors as a latent form of discrimination.

At the time, the applicant pastor assumed the email referred to age discrimination.

In September, however, she learned about the vicar's previous statements about her sexual orientation and realised that she had been passed over for the job because she was a lesbian.

"This is an important case because it involves exactly the kind of thing that we don't think should be allowed to happen," Vida Paridad, a lawyer with the Örebro Rättighetscenter, an anti-discrimination organisation which helped the pastor with her case, told The Local.

"Namely, that someone be denied a job, not because they lack the right skills or competence, but because of their sexual orientation," she explained.

According to Paridad, her organisation generally attempts to get the parties involved in discrimination cases to sit down to discuss the matter in order to reach a common understanding.

After the vicar refused repeated attempts for a meeting to discuss the matter, the rights group in turned filed a complaint on her behalf with Sweden's Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO) on behalf of the pastor.

While proving workplace discrimination is always hard, Paridad was confident about the lesbian pastor’s case.

"It's seldom that you have an independent witness who can testify that discrimination has taken place. But, in this case we have someone who has come forward and that makes this a very strong case," she said.

When reached for comment by the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, the vicar, who now works as a pastor in another parish, refused to comment.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:01 January 18, 2011 by pantheratigris
Maybe the vicar interpreted "one of those" as the applicant being a child abuser or sth. haha Since it's about church we are talking about you never know what's around the corner lol
18:54 January 18, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Since this article apparently refers to the Church of Sweden (as if no other church exists), who really gives a damn? It's a sh*tty church that lost it's way long ago.
20:07 January 18, 2011 by voiceofreason
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:50 January 18, 2011 by Roy E
This is nonsense.

How would a cop that violates the law be any different?
21:13 January 18, 2011 by calebian22
The Church of Sweden is a secular institution and not actually a house of God, so this discrimination case has merit. This would be news if this story was occurring in a free church.
22:11 January 18, 2011 by Tanskalainen
@calebian22 You are absolutely correct. The Cof S is indeed a secular institution. Unfortunately it is paid for (in a large part) by the tax payers of Sweden.
22:19 January 18, 2011 by Roy E
@calebian22

So in other words, it's an utter fraud.
01:32 January 19, 2011 by Larry Thrash
The Swedish diversity gods should check into the diversity of Muslim Mosque in Sweden. I wonder how many lesbians they have as imams?
08:59 January 19, 2011 by Puge Henis
Church of Sweden - clown school.

Always makes me laugh though!

The church of Sweden should be taken in the same as the church of Scientology - morons galore!
09:41 January 19, 2011 by laura ka baal
@Larry Thrash.

Unfortunately the dont have, but you are right since its written in New Bible that gays and lesbians are allowed Ohh! so sorry what i meant was the New Home Made "Tampered Bible".
13:51 January 19, 2011 by beefinswede
Apart from a few diehard poisonous bigots like the ones above, most people realise that gay people do in fact have equal rights including employment rights. Good luck to the female pastor with her case, it sounds like she has a good chance of winning.
16:35 January 19, 2011 by Tanskalainen
@beefinswede You're totally missing the point but then again you want to miss it. The point is NOT that a lesbian pastor is being denied employment but rather that the C of S is a state sponsored, apostate, fraudulent joke that no longer believes in the New Testament. A document I doubt you have ever read.
18:55 January 19, 2011 by glamshek
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
20:08 January 19, 2011 by Tanskalainen
@glamshek It's time for the nice nurse to take you back to your room so you can have some more medicine.
23:06 January 20, 2011 by Aigulle Delaz
C of S is as many have said a 'secular' institution which was separated from the state in 2000 after been used as the prostitute of the state since the times of King Gustav I Vasa and over the years has resembled nothing more than an enforcer of the State. Still, I'm surprise anything resembling Christianity exists in this church.
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