SOUTHAMPTON, U.K. — A man in Great Britain who identifies as a woman has reported a Christian printer to the police after he declined to print business cards for the man’s transgender activist organization.
The man, who goes by the name Joanne Lockwood, recently approached Afford A Print in Southampton to request business cards for his diversity organization SEE Change Happen after meeting owner Nigel Williams at a networking event. The effort aims to counsel businesses about transgender inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
Williams advised via email that while he would have been happy to serve Lockwood, he could not fulfill that particular order because SEE Change Happen’s mission could possibly have negative ramifications for Christians.
“The new model of diversity is used (or misused) to marginalize (or indeed discriminate against) Christians in their workplaces and other parts of society if they do not subscribe to it,” he wrote. “Although I’m quite sure you have no intention of marginalizing Christians, it would weigh heavily upon me if through my own work I was to make pressure worse for fellow Christians.”
Williams noted, however, in his correspondence that “[i]t is foundational to Christianity that every person must be respected, valued and loved because they are made in the image of God, irrespective of their economic status, religious belief, gender, sexuality, race, etc.”
Lockwood, who began presenting as a woman in January and changed his name in July, said that he was taken aback by the response.
“I was not expecting a lecture. I disbelieved this could happen in 2017. I have been distraught and cried, and my wife consoled me,” he told The Times.
“I think a point of principle is at stake,” Lockwood stated. “He wanted to make a point to me deliberately for his own motives. I have been the victim of some discrimination.”
According to the Portsmouth News, Lockwood contacted the police and requested an investigation. He says he does not want Williams to be punished or vilified, but hopes the matter is “used as an example in society to show diversity and inclusion is important.”
However, the Christian Institute of Newcastle upon Tyne, which supports Williams, notes that the Christian printer would have been willing to create other material for Lockwood—just not business cards for transgender activism.
“Nigel Williams made it crystal clear that he would be prepared to do work for Joanne Lockwood. Indeed, his email said, ‘I am very happy to print for you,'” it noted in a statement. “However, he was not prepared to do work for a business that actively promoted a cause which might impact negatively on those with a Christian faith.”
“It is a fundamental tenet of free speech and freedom of belief that people should not be forced to help promote causes flatly contrary to their own deeply-held views,” the group said.