A Christian printer who refused to produce the business cards of a transgender diversity consultant is defending his decision and enlisted the support of the Christian Institute.

Now Out News Global can exclusively reveal that Joanne Lockwood has been harassed by email and phone following national interest in her story.

Hampshire police have also been forced to apologise after an officer used her previous name and identity during a call in relation to the case.

Joanne has been living as a trans woman since January and changed her name in July. Her case has appeared in various national newspapers following an Out News Global exclusive published earlier this month.

Hampshire Police confirmed that Joanne Lockwood reported printer Nigel Williams after he rejected her request for some business cards on the grounds it might lead to discrimination against Christians. It’s believed the case has been registered as a hate incident, not a hate crime.

However, when a community officer called Mrs Lockwood about the case, they used her previous identity. In a statement, Hampshire Police told Out News Global: “We are aware of this incident and an apology has been made to the member of public involved. No formal complaint has been made.”

Meanwhile, printer Nigel Williams has now enlisted the help of the Christian Institute. The pressure group supported a Northern Ireland family ­bakery found to have discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to deco­rate a cake with a slogan supporting same-sex marriage. In spite of backing from the Christian Institute, Ashers Bakery lost their so-called ‘gay cake’ case in court but have now gone to the supreme court.

In an Out News Global exclusive, Joanne, 52, revealed she was “gobsmacked” after receiving an email from Nigel Williams who rejected her printing request, claiming the work could lead to discrimination against Christians.

Joanne Lockwood’s business consultancy, SEE Change Happen, offers advice on equality, diversity and inclusion.

In an email, Mr Williams explained: “The new model of diversity is used (or misused) to margin­alise (or indeed discriminate against) Christians in their workplaces and other parts of society if they do not subscribe to it. Although I’m quite sure you have no intention of marginalising Christians it would weigh heavily upon me if through my own work I was to make pressure worse for fellow Christians.”

She told Out News Global: ““I was genuinely stunned. I was speechless. I read the email several times because I thought I must have misunderstood it. I was gobsmacked. After a while, I felt hurt and like I’d been bullied or harassed. It was an unusual feeling. It’s the first time in business I’ve had this experience.”

Since Out News Global broke the story earlier this month, Joanne Lockwood says she has received threats and harassment by email and telephone and one incident has been reported to the police.

Meanwhile, a number of local businesses have supported her by leaving the networking organisation, BNI, in protest after the US-based company stated that Mr Williams would remain a member.

Joanne and Mr Williams met at a BNI networking event, leading to the businesswoman’s spurned request for printing work.

One of the businesspeople who left BNI in Hampshire didn’t want to be identified but said: “I don’t want to be associated with any organisation that doesn’t deal with prejudice. The people who use my company expect me to have high standards when it comes to these things so I had to distance myself. I know others who feel very let down on Joanne’s behalf, though I’ve never met her.”

Out News Global contacted BNI to ask whether they supported alleged discrimination by their members and the Hampshire BNI leader, Alyson Roach replied that they have a discrimination policy for membership but: “Beyond that service, we have no influence or view on how any of our members choose to conduct their business.”

While BNI takes no view on their members’ business decisions, it does have its own inclusion policy, which states: “BNI International Headquarters require that chapters review and select persons for membership in all job classifications based on qualifications without regard to race, colour, gender, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or disability. BNI will support no chapter’s action when in violation of this non-discrimination statement.”

 

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