An actor who sued a theatre and her former agents after she was sacked when a Facebook post she made was circulated has had her claim for religious discrimination, harassment and breach of contract rejected at an employment tribunal.
Seyi Omooba was due to play Celie in a production of The Color Purple at the Curve in Leicester when the historic post was unearthed.
Omooba, 26, was claiming £71,400 in compensation but the employment tribunal in London rejected her claim on Wednesday.
Omooba’s dismissal came after a 2014 Facebook post in which she said she did not believe that homosexuality was “right” or that people could be born gay.
In a joint statement, Chris Stafford, the Curve’s chief executive, and Nikolai Foster, the artistic director , said the theatre had been the subject of “a carefully orchestrated campaign” by Omooba and the Christian group that supported her.
“Seyi Omooba accepted a lesbian part in our production of The Color Purple knowing full well she would refuse to play this iconic gay role as homosexual. We believe the case had no merit from the outset, and should never have been brought to the tribunal,” said the joint statement.
Stafford and Foster added that they felt Omooba and Christian Concern used the process to expose what they describe as “the mechanisms of censorship at the heart of the theatre industry”, and how any views “against LGBT ideology, especially Christian beliefs, are currently incompatible with a theatrical career”.
Her former agents, Global Artists, told the weeklong hearing it feared an exodus of talent and staff if it continued to represent the actor, while the Curve predicted it would have led to potential boycotts and protests had Omooba stayed in the role.
Omooba – backed by the Christian Legal Centre – admitted to not asking the director whether they intended Celie to be played as a lesbian and argued that she was dropped because of her religious beliefs.
“It has been a hugely challenging and upsetting time for all of us at Curve, especially as our industry is fighting for its survival,” the Curve’s statement read.
The theatre also said it wanted to extend its “deepest gratitude to Alice Walker”, adding that it fought in the name of Curve, but also to “protect the integrity of the character of Celie” and “all other Celies in our world”.
“We now look forward to drawing a line under this painful chapter and focusing our energies on how we rebuild our theatre after the pandemic,” the statement concluded.
Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “We’re disappointed by the judgment and Seyi is considering her options for appeal.”