Despite this being the 21st century, in one of the most progressive liberal societies on earth, and yet a new minor undercurrent of homophobia is being given credence by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. While we are not too many years away from the days of “Section 28”, disparity in age of consent laws, and absolutely no chance of marriage equality, under the last Conservative government, by the time the Conservatives regained power the country had changed fundamentally.
In 2010 Britain, homophobia is targeted in schools, both head on, and in more and more schools by education programs. Hate crimes and Employment protections are sacrosanct, and we have marriage equality in all but name. Now despite the perversions of anglicanism across the world, the Church of England has been a supporter of basic respect and rights, if not full equality, and has made it clear that it is not its place to enforce its views on the country. However there are always other sects of christianity, who are frankly not as progressive and evolved as the C of E, or even the Catholic Church. To certain Pentecostals, Baptists and other Evangelicals the Bible is treated as word for word perfect, rather than the views of progressive sects, being highly open to interpretation, and full of metaphors and parables.
Some people who hold these stricter views are coming into conflict with 21st century and LGBTQIAPPQA people no-longer to be satisfied with discrimination a probability of daily life. There was a time that a gay or lesbian couple would struggle to get a hotel room, get served in a restaurant, or hospital visitation rights, and brave people have fought for basic rights and protections.
Freedom of religion is a limited and specific scope right, that is very important to British Society, and should you remain quietly in your home and job, not bringing your faith out into the real world, then you are as free as a bird to practice your faith, however you are expected if you are working in a business or even more so a public office, to leave you faith at the door.
As per normal hypocrisy comes into play, these are not foster carers demanding the right stone unruly children, or wedding chefs refusing to cook with shrimp, or even registrars complaining that their uniform requires them to wear 2 different kinds of fabric. No those issue, which should come up with all of these “Bible Believing” people don’t have a problem with stoning children, seafood, or sumptuary laws, they have a problem with treating gay people with the simple basic respect they are due.
The EHRC rather than standing up against bigotry, seeks to find ways to smooth over issues of homophobia rather than really address them. So a registrar who refuses to officiate a gay wedding would not be fired for refusing to do their job, but instead , give the shift to an un-bigoted registrar. This sounds like a nice and equitable solution, nobody gets hurt, except the British values of justice and fairplay.
Here’s a simple test for discriminatory behaviour, if you replace gay, with race, does what you are asking sound reasonable. “A registrar refuses to marry a couple because she believes interracial marriage is wrong” is horrific and “A registrar refuses to marry a couple because she believes gay marriage is wrong” is equally horrific.
There are certain restrictions placed on business practices, be they health and safety, employment protections or non-discrimination in provisions of service. Now if you are a registrar you are expected to do your job and marry people, without prejudice, and you are not entitled to a right to refuse to do your job. A vegan should not work in a slaughter house, a pacifist should not join the army, and someone who refuses to perform marriage ceremonies should not be a registrar.
In business provision its the same, you don’t get to decided whether to serve someone based on your prejudices, whether its race, gender, or sexuality. If you are a couples counsellor, you don’t get to say “I won’t provide therapy for gay couples” and more than you could say “I won’t provide therapy for interracial couples”.
Its clear that many of the people that are turning to a new homophobic right wing christian group called Christian Concern, are sold on the lie that being LGBTQIAPPQA is a choice, no matter the mountains of evidence to the contrary. The director and co-founder of Christian Concern stated “Race is totally different from sexual orientation practice, homosexual practice”.
Its sad to see that the good name and reputation for tolerance and acceptance of Christianity in the UK brought into disrepute by groups like this who seem to be modelled around hate groups in the US like Focus on the Family, American Family Association and the ACLJ.
This is discrimination, this is wrong, and its a tragedy that the EHRC has put forward such a policy that suggests discrimination is acceptable, and equally tragic that 13 MPs have signed the policy. Its discrimination plain and simple.