U.K. Gay Rights January 12, 2007

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]

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