Sunday, 24 January 2010
Equality bill causes more fuss and bother
The Equality bill, currently passing through Parliament, has caused a furore among various groups, religious and secular. The level of concern forced the Government to promise amendments, clarifying it will not change the current legal position.
However, the concessions made seem to have done little to appease critics and they have enraged the National Secular Society, who has published a strongly worded document claiming that the existing law gives religious organisations practically carte blanche to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. NSS describe John Sentamu’s intervention in the House of Lords as,”irresponsible” and accuses him of wanting organised religions to be “above any law, national and international.” The NSS has pledged to take the Government to the European Court of Justice to face “formal censure and maybe prosecution” if the amendments hold.
Meanwhile, many religious groups and individuals seem intent on displaying staggering ignorance. The evangelical group CARE, for example, claimed that the Roman Catholic Church would now be obliged to employ women priests, whilst a baptist, David Skinner, who has collected 20,000 signatures against the bill, has stated that “homophobia does not exist because there is no such thing as a homosexual.”
John Sentamu has stated that the Equality Bill, “does not reflect the reality of how churches work.”Unfortunately the Archbishop did not go on to explain that that “reality” involves a great deal of hypocrisy and very little consistency in the way that employees are treated in different dioceses.
You can read the details and wording of the bill elsewhere, I certainly can’t be bothered to outline all the details but just want to say that we can expect a lot more fuss, protest and quite a bit of nonsense from many interested parties before this bill is passed.