Kent

Sacked Christian magistrate Richard Page suspended from Kent NHS trust

Richard Page
Image caption Richard Page believes it is no longer possible to "state what the Bible actually says" and have a public role

A Christian magistrate who was sacked over comments he made on television against same-sex adoption has been suspended by an NHS trust.

Richard Page was struck off after he told the BBC it would be better for a man and a woman to adopt.

He has been suspended as non-executive director by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT).

Mr Page said it was no longer possible to be a Christian and maintain a role in public life.

KMPT chairman Andrew Ling wrote to the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) requesting the suspension.

'Challenge stigma'

He said Mr Page's comments and continuance as a trust member would have a major impact on staff and patients, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) staff.

He said: "Links between the stigma often associated with being LGBT and poor mental health are well-established.

"It is vital that patients and local population are confident that KMPT will challenge stigma or discrimination."

Image caption Mr Page was reprimanded in 2014 for allowing his religious beliefs to influence an adoption case

The TDA said it had suspended Mr Page with immediate effect pending a decision on whether it is in the interests of the NHS to take further action and for him to remain in post.

But Mr Page, who worked in mental health for 20 years, said: "It would appear no longer possible to be a Christian, to state what the Bible actually says and what the Church has believed for 2,000 years, and maintain a role in public life in today's Britain.

"My seat on the NHS Trust came as a result of my long service in mental health and total commitment to the NHS - none of that has changed."

He added: "What about treating my views, held by billions of Christians around the world, equally and fairly?"

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and founder of the Christian Legal Centre, said Christians were being marginalised and removed from public life.

Mr Page, from Ashford, made the comments about same-sex adoption in an interview with BBC News correspondent Carolyn Wyatt last March.

He had been reprimanded in 2014 after he was found to have been influenced in an adoption case by his religious beliefs.

Speaking about his views, he told Ms Wyatt: "My responsibility as a magistrate, as I saw it, was to do what I considered best for the child.

"My feeling was therefore that it would be better if it was a man and woman who were the adoptive parents."

After he was sacked as a magistrate, Mr Page said he would take legal action. He served in Maidstone and Sevenoaks.

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