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Christian actress spent 5 years in court defending her right to make anti-LGBTQ+ comments. She just lost.

Seyi Omooba
Seyi Omooba Photo: Screenshot / Christian Concern

Actress Seyi Omooba has been ordered to pay £300,000 ($381,767) in legal costs after losing the religious discrimination case she brought against her former agents and a theater in Leicester, England after being fired from a production of The Color Purple for an anti-LGBTQ+ statement she made on social media.

Omooba was cast to play the lead role of Celie in the Curve Theatre’s 2019 production of the musical based on out author Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel. As in Walker’s novel, Celie’s same-sex romance with blues singer Shug Avery is prominently featured in the musical adaptation. Their romance gradually empowers Celie to stand up to her abusive husband.

Soon after Omooba was cast in the role however, a 2014 Facebook post in which Omooba wrote that homosexuality goes against “the word of God” resurfaced online.

“I do not believe you can be born gay, and I do not believe homosexuality is right, though the law of this land has made it legal doesn’t mean it’s right,” Omooba wrote in the post. “I do believe that everyone sins and falls into temptation but it’s by the asking of forgiveness, repentance and the grace of God that we overcome and live how God ordained us to, which is that a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.”

Omooba, who has claimed that she is not homophobic, later said that she was urged by Curve Theatre to publicly disavow the old post, but she refused, saying, “I did not want to lie just to keep a job.” Omooba was dropped from the production of The Color Purple, and she sued the theater and her former agents, who also dropped her, for religious discrimination. “I want to make sure no other Christian has to go through something like this,” she said in 2019.

After hearing testimony in 2021 that Omooba had previously told her agents that she refused to play gay roles and had not bothered to read the script for the musical version of The Color Purple before accepting the role, an employment tribunal dismissed the actor’s religious discrimination claim, The Telegraph reported. The tribunal agreed with Curve Theatre that Omooba had not been fired for her Christian beliefs, but rather because her anti-LGBTQ+ statements would have likely led to “catastrophic” backlash for the theater if she had appeared in the queer role.

Omooba, represented by the Christian Legal Centre and anti-LGBTQ+ organization Christian Concern, appealed the decision.

Earlier this month, an employment appeal tribunal again ruled against Omooba, ordering her to pay £300,000 in legal costs. Justice Jennifer Eady agreed with the previous ruling that the actor had not been dismissed for her Christian beliefs, Leicestershire Live reported.

“Moreover, as the claimant knew she would not play a lesbian character, but had not raised this with the theatre, or sought to inform herself as to the requirements of the role, she was in repudiatory breach of her express obligations and of the implied term of trust and confidence,” Eady said.

“I have long forgiven all those who have sought to ruin my theatre career,” Omooba said in a statement following the ruling, “but the theatre world needs to be told, loud and clear, that canceling people for their Christian beliefs is illegal and wrong.”

According to the BBC, Omooba’s lawyers said they intend to appeal Eady’s decision.

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