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Must read: Parliamentary Report into SORs represents huge concern for Christian freedoms

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2nd March 2007

Summary


On Wednesday 28 February the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) reported their findings on the Northern Ireland SORs and the proposed England, Wales and Scotland SORs (see link below for their full report). The highly concerning content of the Committee’s report is all the more significant because it will be used by the Government and politicians when finalising the content of (and voting on) the England, Wales and Scotland SORs in the next few weeks.

WE URGE EVERY CHRISTIAN TO READ AND FORWARD THIS INFORMATION TO OTHERS SO THAT THE FULL POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS OF THE SEXUAL ORIENTATION REGULATIONS CAN BE UNDERSTOOD (further details on action that can be taken are given below).

The JCHR report says the following:

  1. In our view, the prohibitions on discrimination in the Regulations limit the manifestations of religious beliefs and limitation is justifiable in a democratic society for the protection of the right of gay people not to be discriminated against” (paragraph 44).

    The Committee could not be clearer in saying that they believe the freedom to live a practising homosexual lifestyle trumps the freedom to live a religious lifestyle.

    The JCHR not only say that this is the position taken by the SORs, and that it is right that the SORs do so, but also that in their view, it would be unlawful to reverse the position and to allow the right of Christians to manifest their faith to override the right of homosexuals to practise their lifestyle.

  2. Where the manifestation of a belief conflicts with the right of gay people not to be discriminated against in their access to services as important as adoption services, it is in our view necessary and justifiable to limit the right to manifest the belief” (paragraph 52).

  3. In our view the Regulations should clearly apply to the curriculum, so that homosexual pupils are not subjected to teaching, as part of their religious education or other curriculum, that their sexual orientation is sinful or morally wrong”, and “We welcome the Government’s acceptance that [the Regulations] should apply to all schools […] without any exemption for particular types of school such as faith schools” (paragraphs 65 and 67).

    The Committee are explicit in their view that no Christian schools should have the right to promote marriage over homosexual relationships or hold to a Christian ethos that sex is only right in a heterosexual monogamous marriage. Rather, the JCHR want the Government to go further than their current proposals (the Government have argued the SORs do not apply to the curriculum) so that it would be illegal for a school to suggest in their teaching that extra-marital sexual relationships are morally wrong.

  4. In our view there is an important difference between this factual information [about sexual morality] being imparted in a descriptive way as part of a wide-ranging syllabus about different religions, and a curriculum which teaches a particular religion’s doctrinal beliefs as if they were objectively true. The latter is likely to lead to unjustifiable discrimination” (paragraph 67).

    This is an astounding statement which, without giving any justification, assumes Christianity cannot be ‘objectively true’ and that it should be illegal, even in a faith school, to teach that Christianity and its principles are ‘objectively true’.

    The JCHR instead say that it will be sufficient for a school to be able to ‘describe’ that one religion believes X about sexual morality, while another religion believes Y – allowing this sort of description while denying the right to promote a Christian view does not allow a school to have a religious ‘ethos’ (as the law currently allows) in any true sense of the word.

    The JCHR suggest that it will be illegal for faith schools to teach that the Bible is right in what it says about sexual morality.


  5. During the passage of the Equality Act, the House of Lords removed harassment on the grounds of religion or belief from the Bill […] In our view, however, different considerations apply in relation to sexual orientation, race and sex, because these are inherent characteristics. We therefore welcome the inclusion of harassment […] within the Northern Ireland Regulations and we recommend that it also be included in the forthcoming Regulations for the rest of Great Britain” (paragraph 56).

    Firstly, the JCHR claim that a person’s sexual orientation is the same as their race or sex as an ‘inherent characteristic’. This is of course a completely unfounded claim with no basis in science: whilst there is indisputable proof that race and sex are genetic, it is obvious that sexual orientation is not comparable in this regard, not least because no-one can change their race or sex whereas many people have felt oriented/tempted to same-sex relationships, as well as having felt oriented to heterosexual relationships.

    Secondly, the JCHR encourage the Government to go beyond their current proposals by creating a law making harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation illegal, whilst they recommend that there should be no such law making harassment on the grounds of religion or belief illegal.

It is perhaps not surprising that the JCHR report promotes homosexual rights to such a degree whilst relegating the right to live out the Christian faith: one of the 11 members of the committee was MP Evan Harris, honorary President of the Lib Dem Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights as well as vice-president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association.

The fact is that the report of this Committee will be reported to the Government and other politicians unchallenged in its assertions, unless Christians take the time and effort to stand up and explain the truth that while unjustified discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation must rightly be opposed, for the benefit of society Christians must be free under British law to lovingly and compassionately hold to the clear teaching of the Gospel that God created sexual relationships to be enjoyed only within a monogamous heterosexual marriage.

Please contact your local MPs and Peers to make this point, as well as contacting Ruth Kelly and the Department for Women and Equality (see contact details below) to stand up for truth. Use the link below to find lobbying information (such as finding the contact details of your local MP).

Link

Contact details

The contact details for Ruth Kelly 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:

Email address

Email address 2

The contact details for the Women and Equality Unit are:

2nd Floor

Ashdown House

123 Victoria Street

London

SW1E 6DE

United Kingdom


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

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