A message from Richard Kirker, General SecretaryURGENT ACTION ALERT
Please respond by 5 JUNE to the Government’s Proposals to Outlaw Discrimination on Sexual Orientation Grounds in Access to Goods, Facilities and ServicesBackground
The Government’s proposals for banning such discrimination, ‘Getting Equal’, ask whether the public agree that wide-ranging protection should be given against it, how far there should be exceptions (eg for “faith schools” and religious bodies/charities), and how far this protection should extend. The anti-gay and fundamentalist Christian Institute, Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, Association of Christian Teachers, etc. are trying to organise a mass write-in against the purposes of the proposed Regulations and in favour of huge exceptions allegedly to respect the conscience of the individual believer, as well as of religious organisations (including commercial businesses). It is urgent that as many as possible who support LGCM and its aims should write in as individuals to help counter this campaign.
Your response should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
or posted to Discrimination Law Review Team - Sexual Orientation Consultation, Women and Equality Unit, DTI, 1 Victoria St. LONDON SW1H 0ET
or faxed to the Team at 0207 215 2826, to arrive by Monday 5 June 2006.Points to Make
-Am writing as a practising Christian who believes in an open and inclusive Gospel, which affirms the validity and acceptability of loving same-sex relationships.
- Do not believe any religion should be offered protection to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation or faith if the effect is to disadvantage lesbian/gay/bisexual people or those who support them/us.
- The Government must recognise that the continuing serious problem of homophobia (highlighted especially in our schools by the recent Interim Report of the Equality Review, headed by Trevor Phillips) is fuelled by religious condemnation and the refusal of many “faith” leaders to accept and “respect the dignity and worth of each person” for which Ministers call in their Foreword to ‘Getting Equal’.
- Strongly agree [Q1 of the questionnaire] that the Regulations should apply to ban discrimination in access to all goods, facilities and services, without exception
- Strongly agree that access to premises should be included [Q.4], and that the commercial provision of B. and B., guest house or hotel facilities should also be included, with no ‘religious’ get-out; Christian or Muslim B. and B. providers are not allowed to discriminate on grounds of their dislike of a client’s beliefs (eg because clients are Athesits or Hindus) and they should not be allowed to do so either because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation.
- All bodies carrying out public functions, and using public (taxpayers’) money, should be included, with the limited exceptions in the consultation paper [Parliament, Secret Services etc.] [Q.8]
- Essential to include all schools - including ‘faith schools’ - within the Regulations. A faith school should not, for instance, be entitled to reject a pupil because of his/her own orientation or that of his/her parents. Moreover, no progress will be made in attacking the huge, damaging and continuing problem of homophobia, and its impact in bullying and undermining young people who are struggling with a possibly variant orientation, unless all schools are included. [Q. 9-11] A faith or other school which is condemning a same-sex orientation or relationship as “unnatural” or “wrong” cannot possibly prevent homophobic bullying with sincerity or success. [Note: this does not prevent a school from applying equal condemnation to both same-sex and other sexual activity among its pupils.] All schools receiving public money should be obliged to adopt the full Anti-Bullying Code including that part which deals with homophobic bullying.
- Religious organisations: unless a church or similar body explicitly rejects gay/lesbian people as members/adherents, it should be obliged to observe the same rules as anyone else; but it must be free to organise the conduct of worship in all its aspects as it sees right [Q. 12-13]
- Charities and religious bodies providing community or other services to the public should not be allowed to discriminate unless their instrument of foundation explicitly restricts the providing of benefits to a class defined by its sexual orientation before the enactment of the Regulations [Q.14]
- Individuals, including those working for non-faith organisations, should have no right to discriminate on grounds of their personal conscience
- Direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and discriminatory practice and instructions, should all be caught by the Regulations. [Q. 15-18]
An electronic version of the consultation is available at www.dti.gov.uk We">
We will be putting our formal Submission onto the website at the end of the week.
Please circulate this Action Alert to your friends.
Your views do matter. Please take 5 minutes to let the Government know them. A great deal depends on the outcome of this consultation.
Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement [LGCM], Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, London, E2 6HG, UK
Office Tel & Fax 020 7739 1249
Christian Homophobia HOTLINE 020 7613 1095http://www.lgcm.org.uk
You may join/renew at http://www.lgcm.org.uk/html/join.htm
or download a printable application form
A membership based international ecumenical organisation open to all irrespective of sexual orientation challenging homophobia in the Churches and other Christian communities.
We offer support, publications, groups, conferences and networking opportunities focussed on creating an inclusive Church and welcoming congregations.
Registered Charity No 104884230 May 2006