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A victory for equality in Britain

by IdiotSavant Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 10:18:16 AM EST

From No Right Turn - New Zealand's liberal blog:

Earlier in the month, Britain's House of Lords passed the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland), forbidding discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in Northern Ireland.  This week, the UK cabinet has been wrestling with a similar provision for the rest of the UK.  The Catholic Church - backed by the Prime Minister and Equality Minister Ruth Kelly - wanted a special exemption for Catholic Adoption Agencies to allow them to continue to turn away gay couples as adoptive parents.

From the diaries -- whataboutbob

Today, their proposal was rejected by cabinet.  And so it should have been - these agencies receive public money to operate a public service.  To allow them to use this money in a bigoted manner would be simply intolerable in a modern, secular society. As Polly Toynbee said earlier,

public services paid for out of general taxes can't be held to ransom by the weird sexual fantasies of unelected service providers

The debate is now about how long they will have to either accept the law or close down.  But despite the latter being threatened by church authorities, it is not much of a threat - Catholic agencies handle a mere 4% of adoptions, and it seems likely that many will simply secularise and continue their work, rather than close their doors. Meanwhile, the British churches have once again exposed themselves as havens of homophobic bigots (the Archbishop of Canterbury's betrayal here is particularly nauseating). Is it any wonder that most UKanians now think they're toxic?

As for Ruth Kelly, she has shown conclusively through her advocacy for bigotry that her private religious beliefs are incompatible with her duties as Minister for Equality.  She should resign.

You have a typo in the title of the diary.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 06:32:16 AM EST
Maybe it's an ideology -- Britianism.  Terrifying though I know it sounds to you Continentals.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 08:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Catholic Adoption Agencies should be allowed to turn away whomever they damn well please, but the state is not required to fund charities or agencies that discriminate.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 06:33:48 AM EST
People always debate serious issues, here.

I love it!

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 10:43:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was obvious from the outset that there would be conflict between the sexual orientation regs and the religion or belief regs, both in an employment context and also with the newer extension to goods and services.

I dislike Ruth Kelly for many reasons and she is not the right Minister to be at the head of the equality agenda.

It isn't just in this context that religious beliefs have been interfering with what should be mainstream policy in a secular yet diverse society.  I think it is quite right that there is protection from discrimination for people with a range of religious and other beliefs and these views should be represented. The problem occurs when the expression of these beliefs then discriminates or causes oppression of other groups.  The religion vs sexual orientation debate is a prime example.

I'm glad to see that Catholic adoption agencies were not made exempt from the regulations and I feel a continuing concern at those politicians who want to promote a particular religion within their policies, especially in a mainstream context where diversity should be embraced.

The victory is slight at the moment when you compare the rights and protection afforded to LGBT people against the far more comprehensive and higher profile protection  around gender, disability and race.  And frankly, although there has been progress in the UK on equality legislation; it's piecemeal, inconsistent and the framework that we work within requires in-depth expertise to begin to understand it.

The Commission for Equality and Human Rights is setting out it's vision right now, the Equalities Review is underway and we have a once in a lifetime opportunity in the UK to feed into this process. Out of this will come a new single equality act and a framework which should be designed to be consistent and easy to understand and navigate.  

To make sure that all equality issues are represented without dilution in a new pan-equality landscape is no easy job, especially with Ministers like Ruth Kelly who try to dominate with the oppression of one group in favour of another.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 11:38:08 AM EST
I was listening to 'Any Answers' on Radio 4 earlier, which contained a contribution from a blind person who had been refused access to taxis and restaurants by Muslims because of her assistant dog.

That is now, apparently, and I think rightly, illegal.  But I wonder how many of the discrimination-as-a-matter-of-conscience crowd would be willing to stand up and claim this form of exclusion to be just?  Or is it only their religiously-inspired prejudices that deserve the protection of law?

by Sassafras on Sat Jan 27th, 2007 at 11:30:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or is it only their religiously-inspired prejudices that deserve the protection of law?

Do you really need to ask that question?

by IdiotSavant on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 07:50:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the question could be described as rhetorical, yes  :)
by Sassafras on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 09:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Et tu, Mexico?

http://www.comcast.net/news/international/latinamerica/index.jsp?cat=LATIN&fn=/2007/01/25/571160 .html

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 11:47:42 AM EST
I love the way the Daily Mail branded the issue 'Gay Laws'.
by passerby on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 06:31:59 PM EST
I haven't been able to confirm the figures in this obviously partial article, which suggests that the Catholic adoption agencies, though small in size, punch above their weight insofar as they deal mostly with hard-to-place children.

If this is true, I despair at the sort of minds that would put prejudice ahead of these children's welfare...

by Sassafras on Sat Jan 27th, 2007 at 11:44:01 AM EST

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