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.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Government updates the regs - Christian groups gird their loins

For about 24 hours the regulations appear to have been removed from the website containing Government legislation. (It also appears that a Delegated Legislation Committee will consider the regulations tomorrow morning. A full vote in both Houses will follow).

All of this has led Anglican Mainstream into some fevered speculation.

Slightly revised regulations have now been placed on the web site.

The only differences I could pick up were that the word "epidemiological" is now spelt correctly in the Memorandum to the regulations and that in regulation 33 "Crown application" it correctly refers to regulation 8 rather than 9 as well as a sentence defining a local authority not being included in the revised regs.

Whether it be that these minor changes alter the meaning, intent and scope of the law I leave to you to decide. Some people were speculating that the reason for the regulations being so delayed was that Ruth Kelly had stayed up all night typing them out and this may well be true....

Menawhile over in the bizarre and unusual place inhabited by the oddly named 'Anglican Mainstream' you can see some of the reaction to the planned procedures for the regulations to gain parliamentary approval.

Their site is worth a visit if you're feeling low in mood and need cheering up.

Their response can be seen here. You will see that the poor maligned "Christian printer" gets another outing as he battles against the onslaught of people asking him to "promote gay sex"....... and so on and so on. These people never really give up and they are a little like a broken record that keeps repeating the same few lines. (Most of their silliness has already been debunked by the House of Lords debate but that isn't stopping them from churning out this nonsense).

Truly there is something of the swivel-eyed about these people who can only be pitied that their lives are so preoccupied by thinking about homosexuality.

Worryingly homosexuality seems to be sending them slightly mad and they're not even doing it (at least I hope for all our sakes they aren't)!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

More on the Sexual Orientation Regulations

Here is the full suite of documents relating to these:

The draft regulations

The Government's response to the "Getting Equal" Consultation

The Government's Regulatory Impact Assessment

The Government's Equality Impact Assessment.

In addition, and for ease of reference see also:

The Northern Ireland Regulations, the OFMDFM response (including analysis of responses) to the NI Consultation

Here you can get access to the individual responses to the NI consultation and here, the response from the Northern Ireland Equality Commission.

The report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, relating ot the human rights dimension of the regulations.

What differences are there between the NI and GB regulations?

The NI regs include harassment and there are no references to the clauses on blood donation and insurance (see below). The NI regs aren't explicit about treating civil partners the same as married couples.

Hrassment will still be covered by the GB regs but by an indirect route due to being subjected to detriment and therefore constituting direct discrimination.

What exemptions are there in the regulations for religious organisations?

Religious organisations are exempted provided (a) if it is necessary to comply with the doctrine of the organisation; or(b) so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers.

This does not apply where the activity concerned is commercial, in relation to the provision of education or where a service is provided on behalf of a public authority.

There is a time limited exemption for adoption and fostering agencies until December 2008 (as previously announced).

This is a wider exemption than that proposed in Getting Equal which restricted the proposed exemption to purely doctrinal matters.

What other exemptions are there?

There are exemptions under both regulations to allow specific service provision that targets LGB groups; allows for associations that may cater for a specific sexual orientation; exemptions that apply with regard to accomodation where the person or a near relative lives on the property and it is limited in size; there is an exemption for charities where they act in accordance with their charitable instrument.

The GB regulations provide for an exemption for the insurance sector, provided that it is based on actuarial evidence (whilst the Government has indicated it expects this exemption to be phased out in 2008) and a provision that outlaws discrimination in the treatment of blood donors except that they may refuse a person's blood when based on a risk assessment based on clinical and epidemiological data.