The Equality Bill aims to sweep all of the existing law on equality into one Act of Parliament and to eliminate more forms of discrimination than are currently covered.
While Christians believe in the innate worth of every human being, the Bill undermines basic Christian freedoms to adhere to biblical values in the area of employment. Churches and other Christian groups will not be able to discriminate on the basis of sexual practice which contravenes biblical values or gender reassignment when employing staff.
Only roles which mainly involve teaching, promoting, or leading worship services will be exempt from the provisions of the Government’s new Equality Bill. Far from simplifying the law which the Equality Bill promised to do. The Bill places even more complex requirements above and beyond those already within the existing law and states in the Explanatory notes to the Bill that “the specific exception applies to a very narrow range of circumstances”.
This means that churches could be sued for not employing practising homosexuals for jobs including a church youth worker, secretary or accountant.
This is made clear in the Explanatory notes that accompany the bill: ‘This exception would not apply to a requirement that a church youth worker of accountant be heterosexual’.
Equalities Minister Maria Eagle has recently addressed a UK conference on Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia and Human Rights and stated that “The circumstances in which religious institutions can practice anything less than full equality are few and far between…”. This sort of so-called equality leads to censorship and discrimination.
Andrea Williams, Director of Christian Concern for our Nation commented, ‘This is a new attempt to impose the State’s secularist agenda on the Church and gag Christians from teaching and living out what the Bible says about sexual ethics. The Government thrust is that Christians should largely be free to follow Christ in private, as long as it doesn’t affect their working life ’.
Recent Christian Legal Centre cases illustrate the point. Kwabena Peat, a Christian teacher spoke out against homosexual propaganda on a school training day and found himself suspended. For more information, click here.
David Booker, working at a homeless charity was also suspended after answering questions from a colleague about his views on homosexuality.
Additionally, new or revised legislation covering 'aggravated offences' and 'hate speech' (so-called) whilst protecting the innocent, could also be used to wrongly accuse those with religious views.