Gay reverend loses discrimination case

  • 2006-06-08
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - Reverend Maris Sants lost a discrimination case against the Riga Culture High School today, after the Riga Regional Court sided with the school. Sants had charged the high school of discrimination based on sexual orientation, arguing that he was denied a teaching position because he is gay. The reverend was hoping to teach religious history.

After the court announced its decision, Sants told the press that he was displeased with the outcome and would most likely file an appeal. But before doing so, he needed to see the judgement's full text and consult his lawyer, the reverend added.
Attacks on homosexuals are continuing, he said, if only verbally for now. "There is discrimination all around," Sants added.

Riga Culture High School representative Juris Narkevics said he was completely satisfied with the ruling. "I am very grateful. The ruling shows that the court was guided by the law and objectively," he said, adding that the court had put aside politics and ideology.

A procedural appeal can be made to the Supreme Court within 30 days from June 22, when the full text of the judgement will be available. Last year, a district court partly satisfied Sants' claim and ordered the school to pay him compensation of 2,000 lats (2,845 euros). The school filed an appeal with the regional court.

Principal Linda Remesa said the school's refusal to hire Sants had nothing to do with his homosexuality. She claimed that she had signed an employment agreement with another teacher even before Sants had inquired about the job.
Sants earlier told the Baltic News Service that school representatives had not been able to disprove discrimination during the district case.

The reverend, who now serves as a clergyman at the Riga Evangelical open congregation, said that several other institutions had rejected him when he had applied for a job.

Sants explained that he had applied for the vacant position of a history of religion teacher at the Riga Culture High School, responding to an ad in the newspaper. He contacted the school's principle and submitted his documents. A few days later, Remesa called back and said the position had been taken.

"I believe that the main reason for turning down my application was my sexual orientation. I have a Master's degree in theology, and I am a teacher of mathematics by education. I have extensive teaching experience. I doubt that the person who was hired is better qualified for the job of teaching history of religion," Sants said in his claim.

The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church dismissed Sants in March 2002, after he publicly admitted to being homosexual.