The trust mentioned the comments as part of a defense against a lawsuit filed by 66-year-old Brian Walker. He had worked as an electrician at Southmead Hospital in Bristol prior to the lawsuit.
Walker alleged that he suffered discrimination, victimization and harassment from NHS officials, which forced him out of work despite his need to support his disabled children.
According to British pro-Christianity group Christian Concern, lawyers for the NHS are now seeking to have Walker's case "struck out." They aim to disqualify conservative Christian beliefs as those protected under the U.K.'s Equality Act.
"The respondent seeks to strike out the beliefs … in the list of issues because they are not worthy of respect in a democratic society and are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others," NHS attorneys said.
On the other hand, Walker's attorneys said they will contest the petition by NHS counsels. They denounced the move as "misconceived" and called for its dismissal.
Christian Concern pointed out a landmark judgment in June 2021 regarding the issue. An employment appeal tribunal overturned a prior decision saying the tweets by business researcher and feminist Maya Forstater did not qualify under the Equality Act's protection.
Forstater expressed criticism of government plans to allow Britons to declare their own gender back in 2019 through a series of tweets. She defended her comments by saying that "sex is immutable and not to be conflated with gender identity." (Related: Hate speech: Christian doctor David Mackereth in UK fired and deemed 'unfit to work' for crime of saying gender is determined at birth.)
The judge handling Forstater's appeal ruled: "It is only in extreme cases involving the gravest violation of other … rights that the belief would fail to qualify for protection. Only beliefs akin to Nazism or espousing totalitarianism would fail to qualify for protection."
NHS lawyers admitted they were aware of the June 2021 ruling. However, it appears that they seek to align Walker's beliefs with neo-Nazism and other extremist beliefs in order to strike out his case.
The electrician first made headlines in back February 2018 when he was an assistant Explorer Scout leader. His attempt at "dry humor" saw him criticize a Muslim youth scouting leader who was wearing a veil.
Walker wrote in an email to Scouting magazine that time: "Canoeists don't dress like this; they need all-round unobstructed vision so they protect the group. They will most likely drown wearing that Darth Vader tent."
He also called on the British scouting movement to "stick to its Christian traditions." The movement later settled the case with the aggrieved party and Walker was removed from his leadership position in March of that year.
Later, complaints were lodged against Walker – which led to a June 2018 meeting with his manager. The "informal discussion" brought a number of complaints to the electrician's attention – including one on religious views. In response to this, Walker said he has been sanctioned for "merely expressing his freedom of speech" through his expression of "traditional Biblical values, particularly regarding marriage." He then took a stress-related sick leave in September 2018.
Two months later, an NHS associate director told Walker upon his return from leave that further serious allegations had been made against him. He was subsequently suspended, escorted off the premises and banned from Southmead.
By August 2019, the NHS investigation came to a close. Walker was mandated to undergo equality and diversity training and given a final written warning.
Walker said: "The whole experience has aged me and nearly destroyed my family, but we have carried on and are determined to seek for justice. [NHS] bosses at the time of the investigation said that they simply did not care – we were irrelevant to them on a human level. Instead, they treated me like a terrorist and an extremist."
"Christian beliefs – and especially any expressing of them – are being suppressed in the NHS. The argument that my beliefs, which I believe are shared by many, are not worthy of protection under the law must end. This case is not about me. I am fighting it for younger generations of Christians who have mortgages to pay and careers to lose."
Christian Concern Chief Executive Andrea Williams said that Walker's story "shows the dangers people face when daring to question or even joke about inclusion and multiculturalism." She pointed out that NHS officials launched a "rather sinister campaign" against Walker just because he shared his story.
"NHS lawyers are now saying that his beliefs are not worthy of respect in a democratic society or protection under the equality act. Such a claim equates Brian's Christian conservative beliefs with neo-Nazism. It's really sinister when we get to a stage where argument will be made in a UK court that Christian beliefs are unworthy of human rights protection," Williams warned. (Related: Praying to God could be made a crime, lawmakers threatened with legal action.)