Despite the extensive scope of the “religious exemption” provided in the Northern Ireland regulations, attacks on this legislation, and on the presumed extension of it into the mainland UK, continue from the Daily Mail, from the usual conservative Christian lobby groups, but also from various Christian leaders.
The paid advertisement in The Times yesterday can be seen in full here (PDF file). The group that sponsored this is Coherent and Cohesive Voice. This is an alliance of Black church leaders (“a network of hundreds of Christian leaders in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of voters”) including many names which can be found here.
Complaints about this advertisement can be made to the Advertising Standards Authority.
This group also issued a Briefing Paper last July which can be read here. Both documents contain statements about the effect of these regulations which are just not true.
Tomorrow’s Times carries several letters to the Editor about this matter. One of them is from the Minister for Equality, Meg Munn:
Sir, The Government is seeking to strike a balance between protecting the rights of religious groups and preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
This is a Government, and country, that has a proud record of tackling discrimination wherever it exists. But it is also a country that has a proud record of respecting people from all faiths and none.
No one is proposing that schools will have to promote homosexuality or that a priest will have to bless same-sex couples. But at the same time, it is wrong for gay teenagers to be refused emergency accommodation after being thrown out of their family home on the ground that they had chosen to tell their parents about their sexuality, or for lesbian and bisexual people to be denied access to essential healthcare.
Deputy Minister for
Women and Equalities
And in an interview, Meg Munn said:
“It is right that there should be a public debate on these complex and difficult issues, but that debate should be conducted in a calm and measured way rather than through inaccurate and wild speculation.”