…Equalities Minister Meg Munn admitted the nine Catholic adoption societies in England would be released from the demands of the Sexual Orientation Regulations if they forego cash from state-run social services and instead rely entirely on collections from supporters.
The announcement caused speculation that the Catholic Church could launch an appeal to England’s one million Catholic churchgoers to make up the £10million agencies get from local councils.
Miss Munn revealed the breakaway option in a Parliamentary written answer.
She explained how regulation 14 of the gay rights laws allows religious organisations exemption from the discrimination rules, as long as they are not run on commercial lines.
They can discriminate if it is necessary to comply with doctrine or the beliefs of members…
The Parliamentary written answer to which reference is made above can be found here.
The Evangelical Alliance issued this press release: Christians should continue to deliver public services until the law stops them.
Craig Nelson has an excellent detailed and critical analysis of the bishops’ contributions to the House of Lords debate at More on the House of Lords debate – the bishops’ speeches. It’s worth reading in full, but predictably he selects this quote from the Bishop of Winchester as winning the prize:
“I greatly regret the fact that the Government chose not to do so, but, rather, chose to legislate to coerce the churches and others to accept as the norm for this society—the regulations ask us to accept this and to collude in the Government’s promotion—alternative patterns of living and of family life that many people conscientiously believe are less than the best, less than the most healthy, and less than God’s will for humankind.”
Keith Porteous of the National Secular Society has much harsher things to say about the bishops:
“As it turned out, only three of the bishops turned up. They probably realised that a show of brute power would seriously jeopardise the survival of the Bishops Bench in House of Lords reform. But they clearly tried to field their top brass. This included the Archbishop of York, who even apologised for the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and two senior bishops. All voted against the Regulations…
…“Their remarks were torn to shreds by several speakers in a way that would have been unthinkable just a year ago. The most effective attacks came from three non-aligned Christians, two peers who happen to be gay and a baroness who was chief executive of Childline. To murmurs of approval they lectured the prelates on love and discrimination. It was unforgettable.
“Lord (Chris) Smith spoke of the humiliation of a gay couple being turned away from a bed and breakfast, and the reality of gay and lesbian people being removed from GP lists because of their sexuality. In one of the most powerful speeches of the evening, Lord Waheed Alli spoke of his father, a Muslim. The Koran openly says that Jews should be killed, he told peers. As a Muslim, if he truly believed that, then there should not be a law against it, according to the arguments of the bishops. ‘The sight of children holding up homophobic placards outside the Lords seems a good argument for these regulations,’ he told peers. Baroness Howarth of Breckland concluded ‘Gay people deserve that as much as any of us, just as Wilberforce said that every black person deserved equal treatment.’