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.
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.