A Christian teenager in Australia who was sacked for saying on Facebook that she would vote 'No' to same-sex marriage is entitled to make a legal claim under discrimination law, according to legal experts.
The 18-year-old, who identified herself as Madeline, a children's entertainer who had posted on Facebook that 'it's OK to vote No', was dismissed for the comments by the entertainment business owner Madlin Sims.
Madeline, who said she was 'not afraid to stand up for my beliefs', is now entitled to make a claim under section 7 of the ACT Discrimination Act 1991, which includes 'religious conviction' among protected attributes, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The row began after Sims posted a Facebook status in which revealed that she had recently fired an employee who made it 'public knowledge' that they intended to vote No in the upcoming Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, which will gauge how much support there is for legalising same-sex marriage in the country.
Sims, who owns Capital Kids Parties, claimed that the employee's Facebook post was 'advertising' her 'homophobia'.
However, Madeline claimed that she only added a temporary filter to her Facebook profile picture saying 'it's OK to vote no' on the postal survey, and said that apart from this, she has never spoken of her beliefs on same sex marriage.
Sims claims that she has received death threats and even threats against her children since her post has gone viral.
In another Facebook post Sims said that she is glad her former employee is being interviewed by the press as 'free speech is important as long as ur not being hateful or hurtful [sic]'.
And in an Instagram post, Sims defended her decision, calling Madeline 'a risk'.
Sims wrote: 'She was let go because her actions showed she is extremely out & proud about her views on homosexuals and as someone who, as I said before, has an responsibility to the vulnerable people we work with, could not risk her voicing those opinions to any children of ours.
'We have gay staff members. We entertain at parties where the children of gay parents attend. We entertain at parties where gay children attend. This. Woman. Was. A. Risk.'
Last month, Australia's most senior Catholic threatened to fire any of the Catholic Church's 180,000 employees should they marry their same-sex partner.
The Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart told Fairfax Media that teachers and nurses were expected 'totally' to uphold the Church's teachings and any straying from that would be treated 'very seriously'.
He said: 'I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage.