Thursday, March 15, 2007

Anglican Mainstream goes into hyperdrive

I have already commented elsewhere that for Anglican Mainstream (along with the Lawyers Christian Fellowship - and in spite of their name and connections the core of the hard religious right in the UK) are whipping themselves up into a lather about the sexual orientation regulations.

As I say their site is well worth a visit if you want some gentle amusement.

Their latest entry is a blog from "an MP" saying how terrible is the lack of democracy in the House of Commons over the regulations.

Read on and you realise the MP is none other than (wait for it) ..... John Redwood, who always has a place in my heart as the Welsh Secretary under the Tories who didn't knwo the words to the Wlesh National Anthem, but thought he'd try to sing along anyway - with hilarious results. And their latest entry (a bit like the guest publication on 'Have I got news for you' is an excerpt from.......John Redwood's blog.....

So we can see who is working with whom and where the natural alliances are - Hard Right Christians = Hard Right Tories. No surprises there then.

Bearing in mind we had 18 years of Tory rule that brought us section 28, this is hardly surprising and also not surprising that during the progress of the Labour years (equal age of consent, gender recognition, civil partnership, scrapping of section 28 and the writing into law, at long last, of protection from discirmination in goods, facilities, premises and services) these are the groups that vowed unceasing opposition to all of them.

Who opposed them all? The Christian Hard Right and Tory Right every time, right on cue.

So it's
political. Change doesn't just happen. You have to make it happen because there are huge forces out there that want (need?) to block progress towards an equal society.

And -
if I can be forgiven for being a little party political here - change happened in this instance because we had a Labour Government, but also because the LGBT movement within the Labour Party (noting especially the role of the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights) and the Trade Union movement worked for that change (and for pensions equality and the removal of section 28 before that).

The lesson is that progress is never a given. It has to worked for every step of the way and against great resistence. That's true today as it always has been.


  1. Well, Craig, in the 1950s and '60s the Closet was bursting with Tory MPs and Peers and camp High Anglicans. And there were some pretty vicious Labour/trade union opponents of law reform too, such as the Mahon brothers of Liverpool and Mrs Jean Mann ["Would you want to see a pair of these male lovebirds on your very stair?"] And Tories such as Lord Arran and Humphry Berkeley played major roles in the campaign for Wolfenden - see Antony Grey's memoirs, "Quest for Justice".

    The only difference now is that the gay Tories don't have to stay in the closet any more. And, without wanting to knock New Labour for what has been achieved while they have been in office, a good deal of it came about because of European Human Rights pressure. So fair dos.

  2. And regarding the regulations, what is your view of the effect of draft regulation 12 (c) (v)?

  3. With regard to the first - the dectriminalisation of homosexuality would not have passed but for a Labour Government.

    See the role of the Conservatives in trying to block the sexual orientation regs and the repeal of s28.

    As for Europe, some of the reforms have come under the European Convention on Human Rights ... hmmmmm - isn't that the one that David Cameron wants us to withdraw from?

    Some of the progress has come from the EU Directives negotiated by the Labour Government, notably.

    But alot of the reforms are entirely home grown and have nothing to do with pressure from the EU or European Human Rights legislation - such as Civil Partnerships, the scrapping of section 28, or the sexual orientation regulations, which are entirely domestic.

    Of course there are some supportive Tories - very small minority, but the role of the unions, certainly after the 1980's in promoting LGBT equality is remarkable - not necessarily because unions are able to get everything right, but because LGBT workers organised within their unions in the same way we have organised inside the Labour Party.

    Reg 12(c) was part of the original consultation and is a standard part of equality legislation so far as I can see - what's your view?

  4. The 1967 Act would not have been passed if Roy Jenkins had not been Home Secretary. Harold Wilson didn't want it, and James Callaghan intensely disliked it.

    The regulation I referred to reads:

    Statutory requirements

    12. Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful to do anything which is necessary, or in so far as it is necessary, for the purpose of complying with —

    (a) an Act of Parliament,

    (b) an Act of the Scottish Parliament,

    (c) legislation made or to be made —
    (i) by a Minister of the Crown,
    (ii) by Order in Council,
    (iii) by the Scottish Ministers or a member of the Scottish Executive,
    (iv) by the National Assembly for Wales, or

    (d) a condition or requirement imposed by a Minister of the Crown by virtue of anything listed in paragraphs (a) to (c).

    (v) seems to imply that discrimination would not be unlawful if it was done to comply with a Measure passed by the General Synod - a non-parliamentary body. Do you agree?


  5. I don't wish to go over ancient history - post 1997 we have a good solid equality record and we need to carry on building on that. If there's the odd Tory out there who feels able to join the campaign then all to the good.

    On 12 (c) I may be slow but I have some difficulty in establishing the point that you're trying to establish. Seems to me that this was part of the original consultaion document and is nothing to get excited about therefore I'm not sure I see the point you're trying to make - there may be a valid point - I just don't quite get it yet.

    In any case the Church of England is already covered quite extensively by the exemption in reg 14, but do bear in mind that Acts of Synod need parliamentary approval first.

  6. Thanks for your comments. I realise that "ancient history" is of no importance to your generation - but those of us who got the '67 Act through could not afford to be so tribal. I remember Lord Wolfenden saying that "people who build bridges must expect to be trampled on".

    I take your point about parliamentary approval being needed for Synod measures. But one can't be too careful with all the Anglican ducking and weaving going on. Thank goodness we had a more stalwartly liberal Archbishop of Canterbury in Michael Ramsey.

  7. Actually, ancient history *IS* important (by which I mean history going back to the Christian era and beyond).

    You may be interested in Peter Purton's recent book "Sodom, Gomorrah and the New Jerusalem" published by the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights and kicks off with the important contributions of Edward Carpenter (a socialist) and detailing the development of lesbian and gay organising in the Labour Party and trde union movement. It's a really good book and well worth the read.

    But for the modern era, which, when we talk about the sexual orientation regulations, is where we are at, we see the majority of Tories will do anything to wreck and oppose the regs (aided and abetted, it's true by the religious right, including the Church of England, sadly).

    As for 12 (c), I personally do not see a major worry there.

    As for your comments about Micahel Ramsay I cannot agree more, though I do confess to not knowing enough about him and his life or work.