Steve August 13, 2020
anti-gay-christian-group-forced-to-pay-out-after-‘demoralising’-atmosphere-drove-worker-to-porn-and-a-damaging-stroke

A worker at an anti-gay Christian group has been awarded compensation after stressful working conditions drove him to watch pornography and suffer a stroke.

Michael Bowker, 47, was the office national officer for Family Voice Australia, a Christian lobbying group which campaigned against same-sex marriage and sex work.

He collapsed at work in April 2016 after watching pornography, which he said he used to combat the office culture of poor staff morale, high workload and long hours.

He was awarded compensation on July 31 after the SA Employment Tribunal found that his stress levels at work “significantly contributed” to his brain haemorrhage.

Bowker, a Christian who was born into a “seriously religious family” in South Africa, first came to rely upon pornography after witnessing a drive-by shooting in 1993. He began using it to regulate stress and had since “struggled with it for many years”.

“He felt this was in conflict with his religious beliefs and his moral standards,” the tribunal’s deputy president, Stephen Lieschke, said in his judgement.

“He believed that looking at pornography was a sin. He said that when he felt under pressure or stress he used pornography.”

Family Voice Australia argued that their former employee’s use of pornography contributed more to his stress levels than the working culture, but he insisted that it was a symptom and not the cause.

The employment tribunal eventually sided with Bowker, ruling that the then-national director Dr David Phillips had “demoralised staff” with his management style and that “tensions in the office were palpable” whenever he entered a room.

Bowker was hospitalised for three months due to complications resulting from the stroke, and although he has since improved he remains “significantly impaired” today.

Family Voice Australia was ordered to pay Bowker two years of weekly compensation payments due to the impact of work anxiety on his stroke.

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