By Isa Cox
A Canadian male pastor who identifies as a woman has filed a lawsuit against his former church for voting to fire him after he came out as transgender, claiming discrimination.
When the Rev. Junia Joplin was hired by the Lorne Park Baptist Church in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2014, he was living his life as the male that God formed him to be in his mother’s womb. However, he revealed during a livestream sermon last year that he planned to live his life as a woman, Junia.
Joplin’s suit contends he was subject to an “unfair process” in which he was questioned during several virtual town halls and that the congregation voted to end his employment in July of 2020.
On Wednesday, Lorne Park Baptist Church stated that it had gone through a “process of attempting to discern God’s will” when faced with Joplin’s revelation about his gender identity, a procedure it conducted in a “careful and thoughtful manner.”
“In the end, the congregation voted to terminate her employment as lead pastor of the church, with the majority of the votes to terminate made for theological reasons,” the church’s executive council chair, David Huctwith, said in a statement, according to CBC. “We offered her what we think was a fair severance.”
The suit seeks nearly $200,000 in damages and contends that Joplin’s firing was a breach of Canada’s Human Rights Code, which bans employment discrimination on the basis of sexual or gender identity.
Last week, Joplin explained in an interview that the whole experience left him with a sense of “anxiety” about church life that he’d never felt before.
“Those were very much my first steps into social transition,” he told CBC. “That’s a hard place to be. I think just about any trans person will tell you that can feel frightening, feel vulnerable. It’s a time when support is so essential and, unfortunately, for a lot of us we don’t get it in places like our workplace.”
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