A South London mayor candidate who was sacked from her job after publishing an anti-gay marriage leaflet has claimed she is a victim of “cancel culture”.

Maureen Martin is suing L&Q housing association, her employer of 13 years, claiming she was unfairly dismissed after it allegedly fired her for “discriminatory” views expressed in an election pamphlet.

Ms Martin, who was standing as the Christian People’s Alliance (CPA) candidate in Lewisham’s mayor election, distributed a leaflet which claimed wedlock between a man and woman was “fundamental” for a successful society to homes across the borough in April.

The pamphlet was widely criticised by people on social media at the time and Labour mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan argued the CPA’s policies were “bigoted.”

News Shopper: The controversial election leaflet distributed to homes in Lewisham. CREDIT: Christian ConcernThe controversial election leaflet distributed to homes in Lewisham. CREDIT: Christian Concern

Three complaints were lodged against Miss Martin to her employer.

Two are believed to be from tenants of housing association L&Q and a third from a colleague of Miss Martin.

They allegedly described Miss Martin as “bigoted,” said she should receive “anti-oppressive training” and called for her to face disciplinary action.

Miss Martin claims she was summoned to a meeting with housing association bosses where she was allegedly interrogated about her beliefs.

She was also challenged about previous tweets in which she commented on transgender sports and retweeted a CPA post saying it was “disgusting” for the USA’s Vatican embassy to show the LGBTQ+ flag.

She was sacked a few weeks after the election in May, where she finished second to last with one per cent of the vote.

L&Q claimed Miss Martin had damaged the company’s reputation, failed to declare her political interests and breached its social media policy.

In her dismissal letter, Miss Martin was told her views could be “perceived to be discriminatory, hurtful and offensive views towards members of the LGBTQ+ community, non-traditional families, and abortion”.

But speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Miss Martin, 56, argued she was the real victim of discrimination.

She said: “It’s unjust. I’m being persecuted. My Christian values were not being regarded in terms of the equalities act.

"They were being ignored. L&Q have breached human rights laws. Article 9 and Article 10 [of the European Convention on Human Rights] they’ve completely ignored that.”

Miss Martin is now suing her former employer L&Q for unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment.

Her case is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre – an organisation which provides support to Christians who believe they’ve been discriminated against because of their faith.

Speaking previously, Miss Martin added: “I was devastated, but also sadly not surprised that L&Q would treat me in this way.

"I have a right to express my own Christian beliefs in my own private time and should not be required to self-censor valid beliefs on marriage, abortion and US politics.

“We either have freedom of speech in the UK, or we do not. We must have the freedom to disagree with each other without it resulting in people having their lives torn apart.”

Fiona Fletcher-Smith, L&Q Group chief executive, said: “We are proud to promote equality for people from all backgrounds.

"Whilst we respect that individuals’ freedom to hold particular religious or other beliefs is absolute, we do not tolerate it when these beliefs are manifested in a way that is derogatory or offensive to others.

"Several of our residents raised complaints with us after reading the leaflet.

“L&Q therefore has a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination of any kind – whether that be shown through actions or words in the workplace, made public on social media channels, or shared in other publicly available materials or forums.

“This matter was investigated in accordance with L&Q’s policies and procedures, and in line with equalities legislation and the ACAS code of practice, and the appropriate action taken.

"We have also engaged with our diversity networks during this case and are united in our commitment to a zero-tolerance approach.”

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