10 Jan 2007

Greens comment on religious opposition to sexual freedom

They want to hold onto the right to discriminate against LGB people and it’s simply unacceptable that these organisations could now hold the Government to ransom over

well, another roller coaster of a day as principal speaker (I will tell you more in the Wall diaries in 2046!)...this is from the Green Party LBGT group and needs saying

THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER GROUP OF THE GREEN PARTY OF ENGLAND AND WALES

*
**Religious organisations are scaremongering*
*
Green Party condemns moves to delay goods and services equality and welcomes House of Lords vote*

/Should a lesbian pupil be expelled from a faith school because of her sexuality?
Is it right that a faith-run homeless hostel can stop housing someone because they’re gay?/

The answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’ if the Government waters down new legislation.

The Government is putting regulations before Parliament which will make it illegal for the providers of goods and services to discriminate against lesbian and gay people. However there has been a huge campaign led by religious organizations to water down the regulations.

Yesterday a protest was organised by religious organisations to coincide with a debate in the House of Lords on the regulations passed in Northern Ireland in December. The debate was led by Lord Morrow who wants to eliminate the regulations, which will come into force throughout the rest of the UK later this year.

The planned legal protection offered by the new regulations is being vociferously challenged by Christian, Judaist and Muslim fundamentalists who want exemptions for religious organisations to continue to treat the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) communities like second-class citizens.

In real terms if these exceptions are enacted they could allow, for example, faith schools to expel LGB pupils or faith-based homeless charities to forbid access to LGB homeless people.

Welcoming the House of Lords’ decisive rejection, last night, of the move to suspend the Northern Ireland regulations, Phelim Mac Cafferty a gay Green Party activist in Brighton and Hove , commented: “Some of the protesters include ‘The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowhip’, which is against the outlawing of harassment against gay people; another is the ‘Christian Concern for our Nation’ which does not view homosexual relationships as equal to heterosexual ones.

“They want to hold onto the right to discriminate against LGB people and it’s simply unacceptable that these organisations could now hold the Government to ransom over the long-promised equality for the LGB communities.”

“This is not about forcing religious organisations to comply to any way of thinking, rather it establishes that the protections that those very organisations have in law are granted to the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities too.”

“The Green Party condemns any moves to water down the goods, facilities and services regulations. We call on the Government to now stand up to the bigots and make these regulations law.”

1 comment:

a very public sociologist said...

I'm glad to see the relgious bigots have been seen off, for now.

Here's OutRage's statement:

Gay vote – House of Lords defeat for fundamentalism

"Victory for tolerance and human rights"

Muslim Council of Britain refuses to join anti-gay campaign

London - 10 January 2007

"The House of Lords vote was a huge defeat for religious
fundamentalism and a significant victory for gay rights and human
rights in general," said Brett Lock of gay human rights group OutRage!

Mr Lock was commenting on the 199 – 68 vote in the House of Lords
last night, 9 January 2007, in favour of the new sexual orientation
regulations which outlaw discrimination against lesbian and gay
people in the provision of goods and services.

"It demonstrates that liberal Britain can defeat the forces of
religious fanaticism.

"The Christian right want to maintain a legal system where they are
free to promote homophobic prejudice and discrimination. Even the
socially conservative House of Lords rejected their demand for the
right to discriminate against gay people," added Mr Lock.

"We are delighted that no mainstream religious groups supported the
rally outside parliament in opposition to the sexual orientation
regulations.

"OutRage! is particularly encouraged that the Muslim Council of
Britain refused to support the protests at Westminster. This
contrasts with past gay equality votes, where the MCB has always
lined up with Christian fundamentalists to endorse the retention of
homophobic laws. The MCB opposed every previous gay law reform. We
welcome this change of heart and thank the MCB for refusing to join
the pro-discrimination protesters.

"The media spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, Inayat
Bunglawala, has argued in The Guardian in favour of gay equality. On
9 January he wrote: `just as the followers of different faiths should
be protected against unfair discrimination in the provision of goods
and services, so too should people on account of their sexual
orientation. It seems to be an unanswerable argument. And it is one
that British Muslims should be supporting…'

"Equally encouraging is the statement by Board of Deputies of British
Jews, which distanced itself from the anti-gay rights rally outside
parliament on Tuesday night. It issued a news release stating: `The
Board of Deputies opposes discrimination on any grounds and
recognises that the rights of those within our community and in wider
society should not be infringed on the grounds of ethnicity, gender,
sexual orientation, age, disability, religion conviction or for any
other similar reason.'

"The Board of Deputies said that to its knowledge, no Jewish groups
participated in the protest, contrary to many media reports.

"Leading Christian service provider, Faithworks, also supported anti-
discrimination protection for gays and lesbians," noted Mr Lock

"These examples clearly demonstrate that the anti-gay protests were
the work of religious extremists with little mainstream faith
support. The three-to-one vote in our favour in the Lords underlines
the pro-gay majority," he continued.

"The campaign of scaremongering and lies orchestrated by
fundamentalist religious pressure groups ultimately undermined their
own position and exposed their hypocrisy.

"Fundamentalist leaders told their congregations that the Sexual
Orientation Regulations would force schools to teach about gay sex
and would compel Christian printers to publish gay porn, among other
outlandish allegations. None of these claims were true.

"Lord Lester requested clarification in the House of Lords after
outrageous claims were made about the new anti-discrimination in
advertisements in national newspapers last month. Lord Rooker
answered for the government, exposing these claims as false.

See:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199697/ldhansrd/pdvn/lds06/
text/61213w0002.htm#061213103000011

"For example, the sexual orientation regulations have nothing to do
with schools curricula or the content of lessons. They would,
however, prevent a gay pupil being expelled from a school on the
basis of his or her sexual orientation.

"The law already protects people of faith from discrimination. The
fact that religious groups accept this protection for themselves,
while seeking to deny it to others, exposes their bigotry and
hypocrisy.

"We were shocked by the number of young children drafted in to fill
out the protest. Religious fundamentalist parents are a real danger
to children. They fill their heads with prejudice, creating
tomorrow's bigots and gay bashers. Where is the tolerance and
compassion that these people say their religion teaches?

"However, while celebrating the defeat of the religious right, we
should not forget that the more powerful mainstream religious groups
don't need to protest outside parliament. They exert behind-the-
scenes influence and have the ear of government; having already
successfully lobbied for significant religious exemptions from the
new regulations," warned Mr Lock.

A transcript of the House of Lords debate can be found at Hansard
here:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldhansrd/text/70109-
0011.htm#07010985000001

Free for use photos from last night's demonstration can be accessed
here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157594471216718