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BHA refutes cross-party findings that "rights of homosexuals take precedence over those of Christians"

A report from a cross-party parliamentary Christian group claims that the rights of homosexuals take precedence over those of Christians. Following an inquiry hearing evidence from 30 Christian groups it criticises equalities legislation stating that the law relegates the rights of Christians below those of others.

The report, entitled Clearing the Ground, states: ‘Critically, early indications from court judgments are that sexual orientation takes precedence and religious belief is required to adapt in the light of this. We see this as an unacceptable and unsustainable situation.’ Particularly scathing of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the inquiry heard submissions saying that the EHRC had been ‘hijacked’ by secularists to the extent that it was now ‘ideologically biased’ against religion. The report condemns the commission for inviting humanist groups with ‘tiny’ memberships to discussions intended for faith groups, saying the policy effectively shut down formal consultations with religious organisations.

Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs, commented ‘The findings of this report are wholly ridiculous and not at all grounded in any reality. A largely fallacious narrative has been constructed around the notion that Christian and religious groups are under threat and being persecuted. Nor has the EHRC been hijacked. This is a country in which the state allows for exemptions for religious groups in equality laws; funds ‘faith’ schools and allows discriminatory practice within those settings; and reserves places for Bishops in the House of Lords. The report presents a gay rights versus religious rights battle citing recent cases as examples of the supposed relegation of Christian rights. The right to your religious or non-religious beliefs is absolute; it is legitimate for the right to act on those beliefs to be restrained so that the rights of others are not violated. Our equality law protects religious people on those grounds in exactly the same way that it protects gay people – but no more than that.

‘The vast majority of people in Britain are not members of any local church, religious group or community, and so to lay such emphasis on religious identities as being the ones most important or ones which should be exempt from equality legislation is detrimental to equal and fair society.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson, Chief Executive at andrew@humanism.org.uk or on 07855 380 633 or Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at pavan@humanism.org.uk or on 0773 843 5059.

The BHA offered to give evidence to the enquiry, but was refused.

Read the report at http://www.eauk.org/clearingtheground/

Read more about the BHA’s work on equalities: http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/equalities

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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