Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gay-bashing Bishops in Self-serving call

News that the Church of England has joined the Catholic Church in calling for exemptions from the Sexual Orientation Regulations were labelled"predictable, self-serving prejudice" by the UK Gay and Lesbian HumanistAssociation (GALHA).

GALHA's secretary, George Broadhead, said: "It is no surprise that the Anglicans have joined in the call for religious exemptions from the equality legislation - they did exactly the same thing with the Employment Equality Regulations - and the government gave in on that occasion. They are driving a coach and horses through the very concept of equality. This is not just about adoption, it is about a whole raft of other petty discriminations that the Churches want to practice against gay people.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury argues that the opt-outs are necessary to protect the religious from acting against their 'conscience'. What kind of conscience is it that feels it is necessary to, in effect, put up a sign outside its premises saying 'No Gays'?

"The bishops may be presenting themselves as some sort of victims, but the truth is that they are hiding their crude loathing of gay people under a cloak of 'conscience'. This is nothing less than ecclesiastical gay-bashing."

GALHA calls on the Prime Minister to stand firm against this religious bullying and leave the regulations intact.

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Call on PM to be Ruthless

When Ruth Kelly - who abstained from or voted against key gay equality issues - was given the 'Equalities' portfolio in May last year, George Broadhead of the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association warned:

“Ms Kelly’s equivocal answers to these questions [about homosexuality] bring into question her appointment to this sensitive post. She says that she will make her own mind up about the issues and follow the Government’s policy, but how can we be sure that she will be able to put her deep attachment to this extremist Catholic group to one side when making decisions?”

Peter Tatchell of OutRage! commented:

"Tony Blair would never appoint someone to a race-equality post who had a lukewarm record of opposing racism."

Despite the warnings that it made no sense to appoint someone in charge of equalities who had already thrown in her lot with the chief group seeking exemptions from compliance with equality legislation, the government plowed ahead and gave Kelly, a member of the ultra-conservative Catholic organisation, Opus Dei, the job.

Now Kelly finds it impossible to put aside her personal views and is helping to drive 'a horse and coaches' through equality legislation.

"It's not acceptable to exempt gay couples before considering whether they are suitable... You can't have an equal rights law with exemptions like that - you either have equal rights law or you don't," said Eagle.

The Number 10 website allows one to directly petition the Prime Minister. Now it is hosting a petition to remove Ruth Kelly. I've signed it.

By signing it, I am not suggesting that anyone with strong religious beliefs is unfit to hold office. They are - but not this one. It is an obscenity that the person put in charge of the now-combined equalities portfolio shills for the one lobby that seeks exemptions.

As I said in an earlier post on a similar issue: either everyone is protected or no-one. It is absurd that it is illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of their religious faith but they are exempt from having to return the courtesy.

Labour MEP, Michael Cashman, is backing calls for Ruth Kelly to resign.