Thinking Anglicans

Proposed change to Schedule 9 of the Equality Act

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill proposes to make a number of changes to the Equality Act 2010. One of them is in paragraph 41 of Schedule 7 of the Bill (page 52 in the paper version). As the Explanatory Notes say:

Paragraph 41 amends Schedule 9 paragraph 2 (religious requirements relating to sex,
marriage etc, sexual orientation) so that, where employment is for the purposes of an
organised religion, an occupational requirement may allow a restriction that a person
should not be married to someone of the same sex. This means, for example, that a church may require that a priest not be married to a person of the same sex.

The change alters Schedule 9 paragraph 2 in the following manner (added words are in bold face):

Religious requirements relating to sex, marriage etc., sexual orientation

2(1) A person (A) does not contravene a provision mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) by applying in relation to employment a requirement to which sub-paragraph (4) applies if A shows that—

(a) the employment is for the purposes of an organised religion,

(b) the application of the requirement engages the compliance or non-conflict principle, and

(c) the person to whom A applies the requirement does not meet it (or A has reasonable grounds for not being satisfied that the person meets it).

(2) The provisions are—

(a) section 39(1)(a) or (c) or (2)(b) or (c);

(b) section 49(3)(a) or (c) or (6)(b) or (c);

(c) section 50(3)(a) or (c) or (6)(b) or (c);

(d) section 51(1).

(3) A person does not contravene section 53(1) or (2)(a) or (b) by applying in relation to a relevant qualification (within the meaning of that section) a requirement to which sub-paragraph (4) applies if the person shows that—

(a) the qualification is for the purposes of employment mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(a), and

(b) the application of the requirement engages the compliance or non-conflict principle.

(4) This sub-paragraph applies to—

(a) a requirement to be of a particular sex;

(b) a requirement not to be a transsexual person;

(c) a requirement not to be married or a civil partner;

(ca) a requirement not to be married to a person of the same sex

(d) a requirement not to be married to, or the civil partner of, a person who has a living former spouse or civil partner;

(e) a requirement relating to circumstances in which a marriage or civil partnership came to an end;

(f) a requirement related to sexual orientation.

(5) The application of a requirement engages the compliance principle if the requirement is applied so as to comply with the doctrines of the religion.

(6) The application of a requirement engages the non-conflict principle if, because of the nature or context of the employment, the requirement is applied so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.

(7) A reference to employment includes a reference to an appointment to a personal or public office.

(8) In the case of a requirement within sub-paragraph (4)(a), sub-paragraph (1) has effect as if in paragraph (c) the words from “(or” to the end were omitted.

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Erika BakerMartin ReynoldsCraig NelsonLaurence RobertsCommentator Recent comment authors
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Jean Mayland
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Jean Mayland

Always the Church that has exemption from Equal Opportunities Legislation instead of being in the van to support it.

God must weep!

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

What Jean Mayland said. She must.

But how obscene and cruel that the state could discriminate in law against ministers of religion. Do we count for nothing ?

Hard to see what a ‘Church’ could do to a minister who married, without losing all credibility with the public.

RevDave
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RevDave

But, whereas civil Equal Opportunities are for *everyone* (whether the Church, or Government, thinks that their beliefs are right or wrong), every religious group has the right to expect its ministers to conform to their beliefs. Thimples!

ps the RCs already sack priests who marry!

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

RevDave,
there is a difference between not allowing any priest to marry and inventing two categories of priest, of which only one is allowed to marry.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Dave not a flippant matter. Except for unaffected armchair critics.

However, I SHALL marry.

As I understand Protestantism it is about freedom of thought, belief and practice.

You refer to the Roman church which is totalitarian as we know, from so many instances of repression. Cf the Revd Brian Darcy SJ being pulled from radio 2 etc., for criticising the hierarchy for its (mis) handling of clerical child abuse; and now attempts to intimidate the Revd Tony Slattery for speaking according to his informed conscience.

commentator
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commentator

Now that the House of Bishops is positioning itself to make sure that Clergy are denied the opportunity of marriage to their Civil Partners, I begin to wonder how many years it will be before it tries once more to re-write history and appear to have been supportive of such a thing? Has the House of Bishops addressed the question of what to do if and when Clergy who have the freehold ‘convert’ their civil partnerships into civil marriages? I gather that in the eyes of the Law the marriage status will be retrospective. The Church of England will thus… Read more »

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

I think I disagree and support this amendment and see it as part of the quadruple/quintuple lock the legislation envisages.

No matter what happens there will be married couples in the Church of England (of the same sex).

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

No-one can stop clergy and others from marrying – consider it done. A fait accompli.

RevDave
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RevDave

“As I understand Protestantism it is about freedom of thought, belief and practice.”

Laurence, no! Well, maybe.

A protestant Christian does not have unfettered freedom to think, believe and practice anything – without ceasing to be a protestant Christian and becoming merely a Protestant! So maybe you are right!

ps I think you might find that the House of Bishops will now have to insist that entering marriage with a same-sex partner would be behaviour unbecoming of a clerk in Holy Orders…

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

This is about as depressing a little para as could be. I do hope the House of Bishops stop and think what it is going to look like if they make it so that people who love each other and want to be committed to so doing for life, one or both of whom are clergy, are to be disciplined/prosecuted/inhibited/defrocked (strike out – as Molesworth would have said – that which do not apply) for getting married. That has to be the sickest kind of twisted logic. They really are happier with clergy “living in sin”. But I think Laurence… Read more »

David Shepherd
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This is no invention of two categories of priests. The government has finally agreed with the Church of England that ‘The Canons of the Church of England form part of the law of the land but cannot be contrary to general law.’ (House of Commons Library Research Paper 13/08) It is because of this, that the Equality Act 2010 must be amended to ensure that any application of Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 in accordance with those Canons cannot be construed as a contravention of the same act. While not detailing what actually constitutes ‘unbecoming or inappropriate conduct’, such conduct is… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

David,
I fully understand why the law has to be framed as it will be.
My point was that it would be utterly shameful if CoE internally created a second class of priests that is not allow to marry.
That said, I agree that it will probably happen. It will be a while yet before the churches become moral organisations.

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

On this one occasion (I’m not saying this will never be repeated but is likely to be rare) I agree with David Shepherd. The amendment is necessary to preserve religious liberty for organisations that do not wish to recognise same sex marriage.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Gay couples will muddle on creative and ordinary, godly and gay as before – making tea, remembering tio let the cat back in – some caring for children, neighbours and others; some lesbians & gays of course going to school and college and facing All That; some of us drawing our pension- all very ordinary and yet lgbt are glorious too – to those with eyes to see is it ? Or simply hearts that can open …. So don’t worry about too much about ecclesiastical niceties which mean and count for nothing in the big scheme of things (Cf… Read more »

Commentator
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Commentator

So the HoB will not extend sacramental marriage to those clergy who are civilly married to same-sex partners. They will maintain a ‘theological truth’ and a ‘legal fiction’. We become more Roman every day. – But the established church will deny citizens access to their legal rights. And you can rest assured the actions will be brought under the CDM by the Church Society and others. The Church of England will be exposed to general ridicule from the vast majority of English men & women. Her mission & ministry will be weakened further as more & more reasoning intelligent people… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Sir Ian McKellen has spoken out against ‘religious and homophobic prejudice’ in the Chancellor’s Lecture, at Ulster University. On the occasion of his being awarded an honorary doctorate by the University. Life is ‘getting worse for some gays’, he says. I would have to disagree with Craig Nelson and others, it is not ‘religous liberty’ which is risk, it is not Churches that need ‘protection’, but many vulnerable lgbt people, young and old, in the UK and Northern Ireland; – and indeed around the world. I regret that the Churches may never be forgiven for what they have done and… Read more »

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

Morally I think that there are big problems in the churches’ way of proceding and I have (and will always do so) but I actually believe in liberty as a good in itself. I do believe in discrimination law that is general in nature (i.e. with limited and carefully crafted exemptions); however religious organisms have a measure of autonomy from the State (even though the State, in this debate at least, has right on its side and the religious organisms left defending disreputable prejudices from the past) and for that reason I believe it should be lawful for churches to… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Craig
“One can support legislation and at the same time seek exemptions from it without inconsistency.”

Indeed, one can.
But one can also support legislation and the freedom of religion while at the same time deplore those churches that make use of that freedom for immoral purposes.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Because I was doing a few radio interviews last night and this morning I asked the CinW information office if there were any reason to suspect the CofE were going to outlaw gay marriage. They said that nothing of this sort had been mentioned in joint discussions. I rang two Welsh bishops about the Welsh Church position and if there had been contact from England, and one said that while in practice bishops could ordain or licence just who they wanted, both agreed there had been no discussion yet alone agreement on outlawing gay married clergy and confirmed that there… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Martin,
thank you for that.
I suppose the rumours really come about because there will be no more pretence that marriages are the same as celibate friendships and it will be quite impossible for the church to insist that their same sex married priests must remain celibate.

That, however, requires a huge policy shift and I don’t think we’ve seen any move towards an official recognition of the truth of committed same sex relationships.

I am quite prepared to believe there have not yet been any discussions about this!