equality: goods and services

The UK government has been conducting a public consultation on its proposals to outlaw Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Provision of Goods and Services. You can find the consultation document here (PDF). Before you ask, Parliament has already finalised a corresponding set of regulations relating to discrimination on grounds of Religion and Belief. They are in Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006. The power to make these SO regulations is in Part 3.

Yesterday the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England published its formal response to the government’s consultation. You can read that response in full here (PDF) and it is summarised in this press release.

This morning, Jonathan Petre has a report in the Telegraph Church ‘could be forced to bless gay weddings’.

The CofE’s official response is quite muted in comparison with the responses from the Lawyers Christian Fellowship and from Anglican Mainstream. The latter body provides a convenient link to a recent House of Commons exchange on the matter. (I don’t think this is because AM endorses all the views expressed.)

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Dave
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Dave

I think that the Archbishop’s Council’s reponse does a very thorough job of showing that the regulations, as currently drafted, would disproportionately impinge on people’s freedom of religion. The tone may be different to AM and others, but the substance is very similar. For instance: “it is crucial to ensure that churches and other faith communities *and their members* are able to manifest their own doctrines and convictions …. without fear of legal sanction.” ie we’d get sued, prosecuted etc. “The provision of .. services and facilities is not considered merely incidental to their religion by the Churches’ members; rather… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

The major explanation that the biblical-conservative believers are now offering to adjust the new equality laws in U.K. involve what they term a distinction between negative discrimination behaviors based on homophobia, and negative behaviors based on a sincere religious condemnation of homosexuality, LGBTQ Folks, or sex acts as such. How well does this stand up? Examples given in some of the conservative comments include: refusing housing or charitable social services to LGBTQ people, because that housing or those charitable social services constitutes a key religiously-motivated act that indissolubly embodies both the religious witness as well as the service involved. If… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

If thats the case, Dave, then those churches will have to make a choice. Either they accept that their discriminatory practices are no longer lawful, and adjust their approach accoprdingly, or they get out of that sort of service provision. Discriminatory service provision is not acceptable. However, in reality, this will have little effect. Many church organisations do not discriminate in any case and incorporate sexual orientation within their equalities policy. There will be appropriate exceptions made for matters directly pertaining to worship, but any service aimed at the wider public outside that church must operate within the bounds of… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

I was appalled by the Council’s submission.

I can not accept that freedom of religion means freedom to oppress, marginalise or exclude others.

I believe in freedom of religious belief and worship, for all. But not freedom to put a stop to those with whom I / we may disagree.

Dave
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Dave

drdanfee wrote: ” a sincere religious condemnation of homosexuality, LGBTQ Folks” Dear drdanfee, this is the “straw man” put up by people attacking conservative beliefs on sexual morality. What is condemmed in the Bible is same-sex sex, the act. There are plenty of people who experience homosexual attractions who are themselves evangelical/traditionalist believers, and therefore do not follow through on what they consider to be unholy attractions. These are LGBTQ folks too! What the SO Regs, as currently drafted, seem to seek to do is to make it illegal to either refuse srevices on the basis of someone’s homosexual behaviour,… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Dave
No current draft of SO regulations yet exists, so your comment is a little premature. The consultation document asks various questions, and indicates the government’s inclinations at the time of drafting, but the whole point of the consultation is to obtain views from the public before drafting the regulations.

Only the R&B regulations currently exist. If the SO regulations do follow that model, then I don’t see that it is likely your concerns will arise, as they are really quite conservative in their wording.

Dave
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Dave

Dear Simon, OK – lets be more exact. What was giving rise to concern in my previous postings are the proposals and inclinations that the government expresses in the consultation document.. I expect that you are correct about the balance that will be struck in the eventual Regs – at least for churches/mosques/synagogues/temples etc, religious run schools, and religious charities & organisations. I am less hopeful for individuals who provide services and suspect that they might not be adequately provided with exceptions until someone brings a case. Businesses (and their owners/managers) will almost certainly be obliged to behave as if… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

I find the evangelical focus on sex a bit perplexing and prurient. Also it misses the point. LGBT folks’ lives are no more dominated by sex ( ‘the act’) than those of the heteroxeual majority. I want many acts to be valued –the early morning cuppa, shared in a double bed, making a life together, with love, and struggle and conflict and joy. My partner and I still like to sleep together after 33 years (nothing to do with Dave’s’ act’!),because we relax and sleep more soundly. Will some guest house or ‘christian conference centre’ see as rampant, –or as… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dear Laurence, in my experience liberals spend a lot more time discussing sex than conservatives do ! The reason we abstain from sex outside marriage and would never enter into a same-sex partnership (if we are LGBT) is that we believe this to be unholy. Unholy not because there isn’t love and companionship but because Scripture tells us that God calls it unholy.. and that He made human beings to be [monogamous] male-female couples. You might have noticed that this is the way we are made physically, the way that humans create families, the building block of society.. The church… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Dave ; I wouldn’t expect either religious schools or charities to be given the right to discriminate in service provision. In terms of worship and direct religious services, yes, but as the employment regulations, nothing which isn’t directly ‘religious’

Dave
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Dave

Dear Mike, I’m happy if “gay parents” sending kids to a CofE school, or pupils attend who are gay. What I am appalled at is the possibility that a religious school may be sued or prosecuted for teaching pupils to [try to] abide by the morality of that religion, or for objecting to promotion of sinful sexuality or open displays of “sinful” behaviour by pupils or parents.

Martin Reynolds
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It seems to me that the CofE cannot argue in this way following the rejection of Jeffrey John for the bishopric of Reading.
This act of discrimination flies in the face of their own arguments.

David
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David

Ask yourself these things? When was the last time you were refused a hotel room because you were Christian? When was the last time you were verbally abused in the street because you were were a christian? When was the last time you were physically attacked because you were a christian? When was the last time you were scowled at belittled, your relationships denigrated because you were a christian? Because these things are everyday events for gay men and Lesbians.When was the last time you were told that it was not because you were born Anglican but because you chose… Read more »

Sam
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Sam

Whatever happened to “let him without sin cast the first stone”? So will your Christian run residential home also refuse access to thieves and adulterers? Are those that run the facilities totally free of sin themselves? I am amazed that people claiming alliegiance to Christ can be so judgmental and uncaring! I used to go to church but left when I came out as being a gay woman resulted in old friends avoiding me. Now the church would deny me the right to be treated civilly simply because the person that runs my local school or hospital has a faith.… Read more »