The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) in the UK has commenced hearing into a suit by Seyi Omooba, a British actress, challenging her dismissal from ‘The Color Purple’, an American drama, over a 2014 anti-gay Facebook post.
The 26-year-old actress, described as a devout Christian, was billed to play the lead role as Celie in the musical drama, which is an adaption of Alice Walker’s novel, in 2019.
But Curve Theatre, her employer, had terminated its contract with her after Aaron Lee Lambert, a fellow actor, shared Omooba’s 2014 post wherein she condemned LGBT.
In the post, the actress, who was 20-year-old then, had said she did “not believe homosexuality is right” and people were “not born gay”.
@Seyiomooba Do you still stand by this post? Or are you happy to remain a hypocrite? Seeing as you’ve now been announced to be playing an LGBTQ character, I think you owe your LGBTQ peers an explanation. Immediately. pic.twitter.com/GK2xbzZYgy
— Aaron Lee Lambert (@aleelambert) March 15, 2019
The post, which resurfaced online in March last year, had generated heated controversy, forcing her employer to sever ties with the actress.
Critics had questioned the choice of the Londoner for Celie — widely considered to be a lesbian character in the musical drama — citing her opposition to the LGBT community in the 2014 post.
According to the Telegraph UK, the actress, who appeared before the tribunal on Thursday, claimed that she was sacked because a large proportion of the “theatre community” are LGBTQ.
Omooba’s ex-employer had told the tribunal that the company was “concerned about the offence taken among the community at the claimant’s post and the threats of boycott of the production”.
But Omooba’s lawyers had argued their client’s previous views would not have undermined her role or necessitated a boycott from the public.
“A lesbian relationship is central to The Color Purple. The production and the novel challenge the view that homosexuality is a sin,” they argued.
The movie star’s lawyers had also faulted her dismissal for simply airing her view as discriminatory, insisting such beliefs are not unusual among Christians.
Thursday’s hearing of Omooba’s suit against her employer and Global Artists was to discuss the admission of evidence ahead of the full tribunal billed to hold in February next year.
In the suit, the actress is accusing her employer and Global Artists of breach of contract and religious discrimination — an allegation the two parties have vehemently opposed.
The court did not reach any conclusion during Thursday’s appeal from Omooba’s lawyers who are from the Christian Legal Centre.
Omooba had in September 2019 expressed shock over her dismissal, noting the said post was simply based on her faith as a Christian.
“On all my social media I always post stuff about God or scriptures. They knew that I was Christian and they knew my stance on marriage, on my faith, on god… on many different things that are in the Bible,” she had said in a YouTube video.
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