Skip to content

Government to rush SORs through House of Commons

Printer-friendly version

14th March2007


** The Joint Committee on Human Rights said that the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) should make it illegal for Christian schools to teach that homosexuality is wrong.

The EFFECT OF THE Committee’S CONCLUSIONS IS that the freedom to live a homosexual lifestyle should always trump the freedom to live a Christian lifestyle.

The Government have said about the SORs “This is not just about legislation it is about ultimately changing the culture of our society”.

The Government have already promised homosexual lobby groups that once the SORS go through, they will immediately bring in further legislation making it illegal to discriminate against transsexuals.

This is the last chance for christians to take a stand for truth and freedom on this issue before the sors, which take away Christian freedoms, become law.

The Government are trying to rush this law through Parliament so that there is no time for opponents to make a stand. Now is the time to pray and act. **

NB A COMPREHENSIVE ‘FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS’ PACK ON THE LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE SORs WILL BE E-MAILED OUT LATER TODAY WITH FURTHER ACTION POINTS REGARDING PRAYER RALLY AND VOTE IN HOUSE OF LORDS NEXT WEDNESDAY 21 MARCH

Summary

After publishing the SORs for England, Wales and Scotland last Wednesday (see link below), the Government took the Regulations offline yesterday so that it was impossible to access them. The reason that was given was that an error with the Regulations had been discovered. At 3pm today the Regulations were put back online.

Despite the fact that the SORs could not be accessed, the Government have declared they are rushing the SORs through the Commons. They announced late last night that the Delegated Legislation Committee (rather than the whole House of Commons) will meet tomorrow morning (15th March) at 8:55am to debate the Regulations. Because of parliamentary process we will not know the names of the members of that Committee until 5pm tonight. This does not give Christians time to make representations to the Committee to ensure that they understand all the arguments against the SORs. If possible please call or email your MP and ask your MP to be present at the meeting regardless of whether they are committee members and speak against the regulations. Their presence in itself will be an important statement.

Once the Delegated Legislation Committee has met it will issue a statement to the effect ‘We have considered this and put forward the SORs to the House for Approval’. After that (usually one or two days later, though given the way the Government has managed the timetable on this over the past few days there is good reason to believe it might be as soon as tomorrow evening) a Motion to approve the SORs will be laid before the House of Commons. This Motion is always heard at the end of the day. The Speaker of the House moves that the Regulations be approved. If any member of Parliament declare they do not approve then there is a ‘deferred division’ which is a vote that will probably take place next Wednesday between 12 and 2pm. Please contact your MP and ask you MP to vote against the Regulations at this stage (we pray it reaches this stage).

Please PRAY about the meeting tomorrow. Please also PRAY about a different Committee, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, which is meeting at 4pm today to discuss the Regulations and whether there are any technical flaws. Please pray that they will not be pressured by the Government into rushing the process, but will instead take time to fully consider whether the Regulations need amending before they are put before Parliament. The Government’s timing for the Delegated Legislation Committee means that they will have to debate the Regulations without the benefit of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) Report. Although it is mandatory in the case of the House of Lords to have the Report and not in the House of Commons there is a convention that it is best for the House of Commons to have the JCSI report before Common’s debates. Timing the committee in such a way that it is held before the publication of the JCSI report is not consistent with Government assurances that there would be a ‘good’ debate on these issues

Further, under pressure from the Government, the House of Lords Merits Committee which was meeting to review the SORs, pushed forward its meeting against its official guidelines. This mean that many Christian organisations who wanted to make submissions to the Committee found that although they had submitted within the time limits given on the Parliament website, it was too late for their submissions to be read or taken into account.


PLEASE READ THE SUMMARY DETAILS BELOW OF WHAT ACTION CAN BE TAKEN. WE MUST REMEMBER THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD IS SOVEREIGN: JESUS TAUGHT THAT FAITH AS SMALL AS A MUSTARD SEED CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS AND CHRISTIANS MUST UNITE TO PRAY AND SPEAK OUT AGAINST THIS UNJUST LAW – WHETHER OR NOT THE LAW IS DEFEATED IT IS OUR OBLIGATION AS CHRISTIANS TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE. POLITICIANS MUST BE MADE AWARE THAT TO PASS THIS LAW WILL BE TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE WHOLE OF SOCIETY.

IT IS CLEAR THAT IF CHRISTIANS WISH TO STAND AND DECLARE THEIR BELIEF IN THE NEED FOR FREEDOM TO LIVE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, IT MUST BE DONE NOW.

Links

ACTION

Although we will not know the names of the members of the House of Commons committee until 5pm tonight, any MP can attend the Committee meeting, even if they are not officially on the Committee itself, so please contact your local MP (see the link above on ‘How to Lobby MPs and Peers’) and ask them to represent your views at the meeting tomorrow.

The Committee is meeting at 8:55am tomorrow (15th March), so any contact with MPs must take place before that time. Ask your MP to be present and oppose the Regulations. Also ask your MP to be present in the House of Commons when the Speaker moves for the House to approve the Regulations. Ask your MP to say he does not approve the Regulations to force a vote on them.

Ask them to sign Ann Widdecombe’s Early Day Motion asking for the SORs to be discharged. http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=32871&SESSION=885

A template letter is given below – please make it your own. This can also be used to give an idea of some of the points that could be made over the telephone.

Contact details

The contact details for Ruth Kelly (the minister in charge of the Regulations) are:

Post: Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Telephone: 0207 944 3013 (Her department number) 0207 2193000 (this is the Parliament switchboard: simply ask for Ruth Kelly MP’s office) 0207944 4400 (this is the Communities and Local Government Department switchboard: ask for Ruth Kelly).

E-mail:PSRuthkelly@communities.gsi.gov.uk or kellyr@parliament.uk

The contact details for the Women and Equality Unit (the department in charge of the Regulations) are:

Post: 2nd Floor, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6DE

United Kingdom.


Telephone: Helpline: 0207 944 4400 (08:30-17:30 Mon-Fri)

Template letter on the SORs

Dear MP,

I write in relation to the proposed Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) which are being considered and voted on by the House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee on the 15th March 2007 at 8:55am. Firstly, as my MP I would ask that you attend this Committee meeting – any MP is allowed to attend and take part in the debate. I would also ask you not to approve the Regulations when a Motion is put before the House of Commons to do so.

The aim of the SORs is to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in relation to providing goods, services, facilities, premises, education and public functions.

As a Christian, I believe in the Bible’s teaching that all humans are my ‘neighbours’ and that I should love all of my neighbours equally. The Bible also teaches the importance of peace, justice and fairness. I therefore support any work done by the Government to promote such principles. However, I am very concerned that the proposed SORs go beyond these principles and encroach on my freedom of conscience.

The Government had a large volume of responses to their consultation on the SORs, and the majority of those responses were from religious groups who were concerned that the Regulations would not give them the freedom to continue to profess and live according to their long-standing religious teaching that the only rightful sexual relationships are those between a man and a woman in the context of marriage. It is of grave concern that the Government do not appear to have fully understood those submissions. Although there are some exemptions for religious organisations, there are many areas where the freedom of conscience for Christian, Jews and Muslims, has been left unprotected.

For example, 1) There is no protection for individuals to guarantee their freedom of conscience e.g. an individual Christian GP would have no freedom to refuse to place a child into a same-sex household because they did not believe it would be right / in the best interests of the child to do so (even though they do have the freedom to refuse to recommend / perform an abortion on the grounds of conscience under the Abortion Act).

2) There is no specific protection for faith schools: they are bound by the law in the same way as all schools. Also, there is a substantial danger that it will be illegal under the SORs for faith schools to continue to teach that extra-marital sexual relationships are wrong. (The Joint Committee on Human Rights recommended in their report on the 28th February that it should be illegal under the SORs for faith schools to do this).

3) There is no protection for commercial Christian organisations, however strong their Christian ethos (e.g. a Christian printing company will be acting illegally if they refuse to print fliers promoting gay sex).

4) There is no protection for many Christian voluntary organisations which, although run by Christians who are motivated by their faith, are not strictly 'religious' in the language of the legislation (e.g. a Christian Homeless Shelter would not be able to hold the policy that ‘we will not provide services to someone if this were to promote homosexual practices’).

5) There is a crucial gap in the protection of vicars and ministers so that it will be illegal for them to teach their congregation that they should follow the Bible’s teaching on sexual morality, even if this requires discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation in certain cases.

I think (and I invite you to agree with me) that the SORs are based on a significant misunderstanding of faith and religious belief - that the freedom to have such faith and hold such beliefs is only needed at certain times of the week and on certain occasions (on a Sunday for a Christian, on Saturday for a Jew, and on Friday for a Muslim). The reality for me as a Christian is that the teaching in the Bible is just as important to my life outside church as it is inside. This means that if the SORs only allow me freedom to be a Christian on a Sunday, they seriously encroach on my right to live as a Christian in this country.

For example, it is no good allowing a Christian who runs a printing press to go to church on a Sunday and express the Biblical view that all extra-marital sex is sinful, if during the week he is forced by the SORs to print a poster advertising an event which will promote homosexual practice. The law would be forcing him to act against his beliefs – to lose his integrity. I am firmly of the belief that the Government should not pass any law which forces me as a Christian to promote, the practising of homosexuality. To do so would force me to contravene my beliefs. To do so would be equivalent to making it illegal to follow part of the Bible.

Yours sincerely


MS Word template letter on the SORs

Pdf template letter on the SORs

Twitter

  • Since being asked to help Alfie Evans – the boy whose life support Alder Hey Children’s Hospital wants to turn off… https://t.co/VJZBfre1LS 1 hour 58 min ago
  • 10 years, 10 marathons. God willing, Andrea Williams will be running the this weekend, highlighting… https://t.co/9HCwJEbUlF 6 hours 58 min ago
  • With 15 days to go there are many ways to get involved in on 5 May, in London. To find ou… https://t.co/P3Y6OqWMSi 11 hours 33 min ago
  • Please don’t ban pro-life vigils – they saved my baby’s life. One lady shares her experience of receiving compassio… https://t.co/7RXayiEt1k 23 hours 58 min ago
  • Why Christians must rub salt in society’s wounds. Reverend Jules Gomes, discusses why Christianity grew amidst the… https://t.co/pTe6IuLugv 1 day 11 hours ago

Subscribe to our emails