Saturday, 1 August 2009

recent RC activities on equality legislation

Three developments which though not directly related to the Church of England are relevant to the general topic of such legislation in the UK.

Third Sector reports in Charity takes gay adoption case onward to High Court that:

The Catholic adoption agency that was told by both the Charity Commission and the Charity Tribunal that it could not restrict its services to heterosexual parents will take its case to the High Court.

The tribunal granted permission for the appeal by Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) earlier this month (Third Sector Online, 8 July), but the charity was unsure at the time whether it would go ahead.

Mark Wiggin, chief executive of Catholic Care, told Third Sector the charity would pursue the appeal, but he was unable to give any details about how the case would be funded. Taking the case to the Charity Tribunal cost the charity about £75,000…

Last week in the Tablet the RC Archbishop of Cardiff, Peter Smith wrote about the Equality Bill. His article is titled Voice that must be heard.

English and Welsh Catholic bishops warn that equality legislation currently before Parliament poses a threat to religious freedom. Here the chairman of their Christian Responsibility and Citizenship Committee explains why it is so important to challenge the secular status quo.

And, the RC bishops responded formally to the UK Consultation on the European Commission Proposal for an Equal Treatment Directive. They issued a press notice, and published their response in full, as a PDF. In it they assert that:

…the Church is not seeking special provisions which exempt it from universally applicable requirements.

They do however argue that:

…in the Church’s view an additional sub-paragraph is needed confirming that differences of treatment shall not constitute discrimination where such differences are required to enable a religious body to function in accordance with its ethos. A provision of this nature would go a long way to ensure that competing rights are balanced, rather than religious sensibilities being ignored or becoming the subject of tendentious claims.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 August 2009 at 10:45am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

"the Church is not seeking special provisions which exempt it from universally applicable requirements"

Er, yes it is. Wish they'd have the honesty to say that instead of insisting on looking stupid by talking out of both sides of their mouth.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Saturday, 1 August 2009 at 11:48am BST

In this country it's relatively simple. Federal funding has certain guidelines, including Federal Statute. You go against them, not only do you risk breaking the law, you don't get taxpayer money period.

At a time when the Roman church is closing parishes (thirty some in my diocese of a hundred) and blowing 75,000 quid to defend themselves, it's obvious at where their heart is.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 1 August 2009 at 12:49pm BST

I am sure we are not surprised what Peter wants to do with his freedom - I share with you just a taste of what he would like to do
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/tm_objectid=15386326&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=outrage-at-archbishop-s-views-on-gay-teachers-name_page.html

such a generous pastoral heart, this one!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 1 August 2009 at 4:48pm BST

What a mild revision: "... differences of treatment shall not constitute discrimination where such differences are required to enable a religious body to function in accordance with its ethos."

What details could it possibly cover or to what real world circumstances/peoples could it possibly apply?

Well, the presenting queer folks/adoption issue is clear; and the differential treatment is clear, too. No services to queer folks who are adoptive couples, despite the obvious fact that they will pass and do pass complicated high hurdles involved in screening all adoptive parents.

(At least USA state laws demand this, and I'm presuming British-Euro laws, too. Please correct me right away if such strictness does not really transfer; and the Brits or Euros state are just giving away babies or children to queer couples coming in, in droves off the street.)

The differential practice in this instance is, simply: You may pass the rigorous adoptive parent screenings, but you may not adopt, period. Why? Because the moment we screen for queer folks, you will fail to pass. Our solemn bad theory of queer stuff immediately tells us, you are morally awful people through and through. We don't even have to bother with how you will no doubt probably pass the rest of the rigorous adoptive parent screenings – you're queer, get our of here. What ever were you silly queer people thinking?

We are the church universal; we have pledged to believe horrible things about you, without wavering. God wants it this way. God commands. The Vatican is commanding, too. Just like God.

How dare you, you queer folks are just awful people, putting us on the spot. It's bad enough that some individual queer person out there in life might be so jello-head crazy as to think about how to be caring in individual queer daily life; but really, couples?

You expect us not to notice how much worse it gets for society and for God and for couples and for parenting, when TWO of YOU commit in daily life care?

Horrors, you are so hell-bent, you two have probably gotten into some legal stuff – civil partnership? Gasp, civil marriage? Clearly these are deep signs of how categorically jello-head immoral you deeply are, and we cannot ignore the signs. (Our shining faith witness?)

Win this skirmish, still losing the flat earth change wars. Plus, doesn't pass the common sense modern smell test, period.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 1 August 2009 at 5:02pm BST

Archbishop Smith: "Voice that must be heard"

Equals "She who must be obeyed"?

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 1 August 2009 at 8:22pm BST

choirboyfromhell - discrimination against people on the grounds of sexual orientation is illegal in all four constituent countries of the UK except in certain very narrow areas. The employment of clergy is one of those very narrow areas (also exempt from sex discrimination laws at UK country and EU level). The employment of teachers is not unless those teachers are themselves employed to teach doctrine, regardless of whether the school is fully state funded, partially so or not at all. In other words, the RC Archbishop of Cardiff cannot ask Catholic schools in Wales to discriminate against Maths, Physics or History teachers unless he wants to end up in a lot of employment tribunals, probably losing £150-200k in damages and costs a go for an outright sacking, maybe more like £50-75k for discrimination in recruitment or promotion.

I've just successfully defended a discrimination case (no, not sexual orientation) and even when it's patent nonsense, as this one was, You Do Not Want To Defend A Discrimination Case In An Employment Tribunal. Way, way, too many new grey hairs involved in it.

Some of the Churches, including shamefully the C of E are seeking a widening (allegedly a very slight widening) of those exemptions in the proposed Equality Bill for England. It's actually embarrassing when the Muslim Women's Network gets up in an official consultation and says God does not want us to discriminate against gays... and the C of E says, well, you see, it's all a bit more complicated than that. It's not going to happen while the current government are in power, and I doubt very much that Metrosexual Dave will want to open the issue early in his Prime Ministership, whatever the social conservative element on the Tory back-benches want.

>>You may pass the rigorous adoptive parent screenings, but you may not adopt, period.<< That's now illegal in England, Wales and N Ireland (not sure about Scotland). They either set the same, correctly high, hurdles in front of gays as they do anyone else, or they get out of the adoption business.

That's one of the reasons why Archbishop Smith has his knickers in a twist. You'd think that a body which had the entire children's home system in the Republic of Ireland subcontracted out to it for 50 years, and basically ran it as half slave labour camp complete with brutal beatings, half brothel for clerical paedophiles*, might show a bit of humility on the subject of childcare. But then you'd underestimate the pharisaical arrogance of people like Smith.

* No, this isn't exaggeration. Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan_Report or watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jHqndf9Kx4

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Sunday, 2 August 2009 at 12:40am BST

One question still remains - for the Roman Catholics and any other organisation which wants to maintain an ethic differing from that of the legal establishment in which they flourish: "How can they expect to receive public funding for their enterprises which undermine and run counter to the human rights and justice ethics of the community from which they seek their funding?"

Even outside of the question of funding. "Why should the Church be seen to countermand the expressed needs of justice in the community they are called by God to serve?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 2 August 2009 at 5:01am BST

Thanks Gerry for the clarification and lesson, it seems some pigs are more equal than others.

It's a reflection of a society that people want their clerics to be Gods, because that's what they end up acting like.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 2 August 2009 at 11:35am BST

Thanks loads GL for the history reminds bits. We who enter the virtual history and reality of the conservative orthodox must do so at our peril, I suppose; it's so easy to revise, edit, and above all forget what really happens when these conservative orthodox folks get just the sort of near-absolute power to which they say they still aspire, and which they still preach God gives them via their special apostolic authority as definers of some virtual faith once delivered to the saints.

Whew, waking up from all that is heavy, folks. And by the time we occasionally wake up, the real children have already been physically and sexually abused. The cover story from those leaders? Oh, sorry, all those sexual abusers in particular were queer folks who accidentally slipped in for a while because we sort were hesitant to be anything other than loving.

If we fall for this sort of thing, we are doomed to endless cycles of sleepwalking in conformity behind such blind leadership, fitfully waking up to see all the damage, then being lulled to sleep again by the sweet siren songs of those very same leaders. Shush now don't you fret, Daddy's gonna get you to heaven little thing. Except for those over there, and those over there, and those over there, and those ...

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 2 August 2009 at 7:09pm BST

The point is that within the church, and directly religious activities, they do have protection. What they do not and should not have is the right to discriminate in secular civil society. We do not live in a theocracy

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 3 August 2009 at 10:10pm BST

Smith speaks of 'the Catholic ethos'. I certainly experienced it during my time at St John's Seminary,Wonersh --it was far from celibate as far as the seminarians were concerned.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 at 5:19pm BST
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