In the debate on retaining the “Waddington amendment” reported earlier, the bishops of Chichester and Winchester both made speeches.
Hansard reports the full texts:
Bishop of Chichester
Here’s an extract from his contribution:
…The question that we are facing in this debate is accurately described as one of free speech. What is at stake is whether your Lordships’ House and this Parliament intend to outlaw open discussion and teaching, not just among Christians but among others, of views that differ from the currently dominant political orthodoxy, and therefore privilege, in the face of others, that currently dominant orthodoxy. To be explicit, I mean the orthodoxy that sexual preference is as innate and fixed as ethnicity, and that sexual preference or orientation is more akin to ethnicity than to religious belief. That is the current political orthodoxy that lies behind the Government’s Clause 61. People of all sorts in this country need to be assured, peaceably and quietly, whether on street corners, in churches, mosques, synagogues or wherever, that they are free to express views that others may strongly disagree with but which question the current dominant political orthodoxy.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill: The right reverend Prelate had the good fortune not to hear what I had to say. I first reassure him that I believe everything he just said to be amply protected by the law. Secondly, although he refers to what he calls “current political orthodoxy”, surely even a Lord Spiritual would accept that there is scientific evidence to show that the reason why people are gay is innate and not to do with some kind of personal choice.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: No. My own studies, which I suspect are comparable to that of the noble Lord in these matters, suggest that that is the case for some of those who understand themselves to be gay but for others it may not be. Substantial scientific, psychological and medical research points to the statement that I made a moment ago. That is why I say that this question is by no means settled. To pass law on the assumption that we can use the language of sexual orientation and believe that we are talking about something that is absolutely fixed and clear, as ethnicity might be thought to be, is a mistaken political orthodoxy…