U.K. Gay Rights

The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which “ensure[s] that businesses and organizations will be unable to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality,” came into force in Northern Ireland at the beginning of the year.

Not even a couple weeks into the year, and already a vote was called for to reject the law.

Who would protest equal rights and anti-discrimination policy? Take a wild guess…

In fact, many religious groups are protesting the regulations.

Here’s gay.com:

The Christians seem especially obsessed with the idea of a gay couple turning up to a Jesus-themed [bed and breakfast]. Their greatest fear seems to stem from the fact that they won’t be able to reject them at the door (like Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem) in case they’re sued for discrimination.

…nobody is asking the hosts to watch their gay guests having sex. Christians are always keen to point out that they love the sinner, but not the sin — well, what is the problem, then?

The same article goes on to say this law simply makes it illegal to put up a “no gays” sign on your business door– you can argue against homosexuality all you want. Just don’t discriminate.

Reverend Richard Kirker, though, brings a welcome voice to the debate. He is ashamed of what some of his fellow Christians are doing:

Pleas that ‘religious’ individuals and bodies should be able to violate the rules being applied to and by the rest of society, by continuing to treat lesbian and gay people (including Christian people) with hostility and contempt, are both extremely hurtful in themselves, and a shameful witness to the rest of society.

A small group of fundamentalist Christians have led a wicked campaign of disinformation about these Regulations, making claims that anyone who bothered to read them could see were false.

But wait! There is a happy ending to this story.

The House of Lords rejected overturning the law on Tuesday night by a vote of 199-68.

Among those who were appreciative but cautious about the vote was the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association. Secretary of the group George Broadhead was quoted as saying:

While we are very pleased that the Lords sent the Christian agitators packing on this occasion, they haven’t gone away.

We should not forget that the Church of England and the Catholics have both opposed these regulations and continue to do so.

The Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, has even tried to blackmail the government into dropping the regulations by threatening to withdraw welfare services operated by Church.

For now, let’s celebrate a government that got it right when it comes to protecting the rights of our gay friends.

(Thanks to Logos for the links)


[tags]The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, Northern Ireland, atheist, atheism, humanism, Christian, Muslim, gay, lesbian, Jesus, Bethlehem, sex, Richard Kirker, House of Lords, Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, George Broadhead, Church of England, Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols[/tags]

  • valhar2000

    The Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols, has even tried to blackmail the government into dropping the regulations by threatening to withdraw welfare services operated by Church.

    Well, they would never have the courage to do that, but the correct retort to this threat is to propose a full audit of the accounts of the Catholic Church in England and full and exacting fines and punishments for any violations found (which would be more than a few, I’m sure).

    Man, if they ever made me president of a country I would be assasinated in 15 minutes…

  • http://www.wayofthemind.org Pedro Timóteo

    What’s worse is, I bet most of those bishops eat shrimp (which, according to Leviticus, is as much an “abomination” as homosexuality)…

  • Professor Chaos

    I still find it disturbing that over 25% of the House of Lords were in favor of the law.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Pedro — speaking of that, have you seen that hilarious spoof site God Hates Shrimp?

    By coincidence, I just posted a couple of theories to try to figure out why religious people have decided to pick on gay people in particular: Discrimination against homosexuals: why? why? why??? and Why? Why? Why??? II.

  • Karen

    By coincidence, I just posted a couple of theories to try to figure out why religious people have decided to pick on gay people in particular: Discrimination against homosexuals: why? why? why??? and Why? Why? Why??? II.

    Here’s a theory with some surveys to back it up: When fundamentalist activists pick on gay people, they get donations. Lots and lots of money rolls in to help stop the gay threat and the gay recruitment and the gay agenda!

    Targeting gay rights not only gets people riled up enough to send money, it also gets them motivated to go out and vote – Republican, mostly. So, a twofer. It’s irresistible, apparently.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com Mike C

    Can I just ask for a point of clarification?

    You said that the act, “ensure[s] that businesses and organizations will be unable to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality”.

    Does this only have to do with business? That is, is the main problem with these supposed Christian bed and breakfasts’ being forced to host gays? Or would these rules apply to the hiring practices of non-profit religious groups, i.e. churches? That is, under this act, would the government be allowed to force churches to not use homosexuality as a reason to restrict someone from the pastorate or priesthood? Would churches be sued if they fired a pastor for coming out as gay?

    If that’s the case, then I can see why some churches would oppose the law. As much as you might think they are wrong in their morality, I think the principles of religious freedom should allow religious (or secular) groups to refuse to hire (or allow them to fire) people who disagree with their basic moral principles. For instance, you wouldn’t want to pass a law that prevents a black church from not hiring a white supremicist.

    On the other hand, if it’s just about ensuring the right of gay people to be serviced by any public business without discrimination, then I’m all for that. I’m a big supporter of gay rights in general.

    But I haven’t researched into this law, so I don’t know what it specifically is about or why exactly the Church of England and the Catholic Church oppose it. I’m just asking for clarification. If anyone knows, it would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    -Mike

  • http://friendlyatheist.com FriendlyAtheist

    Mike- My understanding of this law is that it is NOT applicable to private groups like churches. It’s only for public places.

    This article may help to see what the critics say.

    One example:

    [Critics] also argue a Christian, Jewish or Muslim printer could be forced to print a flyer for a gay night club…

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Karen – true, that’s exactly why the politicians and activists focus on this issue.

    Plus the fact that’s it’s something they can do for free. A lot of changes they could make that would help families (such as improving education) cost money. With this issue, they can say “See families, I’m doing something for you!! I’ve discriminated against gay people for you!!”

    However, my my posts I linked to above are more aimed at the question of why this issue interests people and gets them to send in donations and vote.

  • Kokomo Jr

    Mike C … I bet you just can’t wait to fire some gay people can you! In another era you would be lighting a fire under them!

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com Mike C

    Kokomo, you don’t know anything about me or my church or where we stand on homosexuality – so you might be better off not making assumptions that only reveal your ignorance. Next time perhaps try asking and listening first, before accusing and condemning.

    -Mike

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com Mike C

    Thanks for the clarification Hemant. If that’s what the bill is about, then you’re right, the opposition to it is pretty ridiculous. A Christian business person caters to all kinds of “sinners” all the time. Why single out gays as too “sinful” to serve? That’s just wrong, even from a Christian perspective.

  • Kokomo Jr

    From every thing you have said so far, I have a pretty clear idea.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com Mike C

    From every thing you have said so far, I have a pretty clear idea.

    Sure you do… so I’m sure you would have predicted that one of the leaders of our church writes for this pro-gay rights blog, and will be leaving in March to join the Soulforce Equality Ride, and that we’re excited and fully supportive of her in this?

    Again, ask before you assume…

  • Karen

    From every thing you have said so far, I have a pretty clear idea.

    What? All he did was ask a reasonable question. Mike is no homophobe, so don’t jump to unwarranted conclusions about him. That’s not cool.

    C.L. – I agree with you regarding the “cheap fix” you mentioned. I also took a look at your posts and thought you made some interesting observations.

  • Kokomo Jr

    He thinks gay people are wicked sinners who are going to hell! Is that not a homophobe?

  • Karen

    He thinks gay people are wicked sinners who are going to hell!

    Um, no. He doesn’t.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    Kokomo – whatever…

    Karen – thanks for the support. :)

  • Kokomo Jr

    Yes you do you have said so before don’t lie or you may get a pitchfork up your butt when you die!

  • http://www.friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    Kokomo– What’s the the vitriol? Back it up or zip it.

    And I’m pretty sure you, as an atheist, would be the first to say a pitchfork up your butt when die wouldn’t matter since you’re already dead.

    Now hush.

    – Hemant


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