Northern Ireland: judicial review of SoRs

The BBC reports on the outcome of the judicial review of The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006:

New legislation banning discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals is lawful with just one exception, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Weatherup said harassment provisions in the Sexual Orientation Regulations must be removed…

…The judgement followed a five-day hearing last June when the Christian Institute and numerous churches applied for a judicial review of the regulations which they claimed were a “gay rights charter.”

… The regulations came into force last January when former secretary of state Peter Hain was accused of rushing the powers into law by limiting consultation to six weeks whereas people in the rest of the United Kingdom were given six months to examine the controversial issues.

It was on the consultation ground that Mr Justice Weatherup said the harassment provisions had to be set aside.

Read the full report here.

A harassment clause was not included in the corresponding regulations for Great Britain, as the topic was to be considered as part of the wide-ranging Discrimination Law Review. (The consultation period following that review has just closed, see here.)

The Evangelical Alliance issued a press release saying:

The Evangelical Alliance is encouraging Christians to respond respectfully and in a Christ-like manner to the decision made in today’s judicial review of Northern Ireland’s Sexual Orientation Regulations that banning discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals is lawful with one exception.

The Alliance welcomes the fact that a number of Christian organisations were able to exercise their right to call for the review. It also welcomes the removal of the harassment clause and particularly of the judge’s confirmation that the regulations do not apply to the core school curriculum. But it is also praying that following the decision, Christians’ rights do not appear bigger than their representation of Christ or their commitment to the rights of others.

For an alternative interpretation of the decision, see the Christian Institute’s press release.


  • L Roberts says:

    Ok so that’s ‘christ-like harassment’ then is it, EA ?

    Glad most of the anti-gay demands were thrown out.
    Oh how we need the secular Law and institutions to save us from the Churches and self-appointed god-botherers / human botherers.

    It may be beginning to dawn on Ian Paisley what civil protections are for…

  • drdanfee says:

    So what is the proper civil response to constantly being told at work – in small and medium and occasionally rather large ways – by a gung-ho and fully committed-conforming religious member of your work or supervisory team – bordering at times on tones of the sorts the Global South and USA Network leaders often like to use in their public pronouncements? – that you just need to repent properly of being an Out/Partnered/and/or Parenting queer person, give your heart submissively to Jesus as construed in a vigorous penal framework, and get God to/let God change you fortwith into either a completely straight or a completely celibate/non-sexual person?

    What is the better response to being told these sorts of standardized traditionalistic religious things, upon such a religiously-committed co-worker or supervisor learning that your child has just been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition – all the subtle and not at all subtle hints about the diagnosis being God’s wrath and judgment upon your evil life?

    What sorts of guidance, I wonder, can the EA offer?

  • Pluralist says:

    Another defeat, good – it’s the same story having to be repeated over and again, and the secular space being the ethical space.

  • Merseymike says:

    This is far more serious a defeat than the spinmeisters of the Right realise.

    The harassment part of the NI regulations doesn’t exist in the rest of the UK for a good reason – because it was recognised that a cross-group approach was needed, hence inclusive harassment protection is part of the current review of discrimination law.

    This approach was supported by the major gay rights groups such as Stonewall, which is why they agreed that it should not be implemented within the SOR’s in the rest of the UK. Indeed, the legislation as it stands can actually deal with most of the relevant matters (and no-one wants to stop the fundigelicals espousing their abhorrent views – just like the BNP, we simply hope they will come to see the error of their ways!)

    The harassment clause was also not removed in NI for any reason other than lack of consultation. The same cannot be said about the cross-UK legislation which will emerge from the law review

    The right wing Christians have lost yet another one of their battles, no matter how they try and spin it as a ‘partial victory’ – because its no more a victory than the shaming of the Bishop of Hereford in the recent industrial tribunal. Remember conservatives tried to spin that one as their victory too!

  • MG says:

    “fundigelicals espousing their abhorrent views”

    What a charming turn of phrase you have! Is that called inclusive too??

  • L Roberts says:

    “fundigelicals espousing their abhorrent views”

    What a charming turn of phrase you have! Is that called inclusive too??

    Posted by: MG on Thursday, 13 September 2007 at 6:28am BST

    Inclusiveness, as I understand it, does not mean ‘anything goes’.

  • Merseymike says:

    I think its absolutely essential to oppose those who oppress.
    You cannot have an inclusive organisation which is non-discriminatory and welcoming if those who wish to discriminate and do not welcome are allowed free reign.

    Inclusivity does not mean the right to discriminate. And liberalism does not mean wishy-washy sitting on the fence – but opposing the forces of reaction and prejudice. Fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals.

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