By Amanda Platell, Mailonline

Adrian Smith is a kind and gentle man. Friends say the happily married father is a pillar of the community, a practising Christian and a tireless worker for charity.

Yet this week Mr Smith was in court, defending accusations that he is a bigot whose personal views are so offensive and outrageous that they are incompatible with his work as a housing officer.

His crime? To have put a posting on his personal Facebook page which said he thought civil partnerships ceremonies in church were ‘an equality too far’.

Specifically, he said: ‘If the State wants to offer civil marriages to the same sex, then that is up to the State; but the State shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith or conscience.’

Hardly inflammatory, then. Yet these comments led to him being demoted from his job, after complaints from colleagues and an investigation by his company’s ‘equality and diversity lead’.

His salary was reduced by 40 per cent by the Trafford Housing Trust, which claimed he was guilty of ‘gross misconduct’ because people might mistake his views as trust policy.

What utter nonsense. And what a terrifying insight into the dystopian world we now live in — a world where a man can be penalised for a thought crime, even when that thought is shared by a huge proportion of the population.

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