PinkNews.co.uk Exclusive

Contrary to earlier reports, the Womens and Equality unit will no longer be run under the auspices of the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), it will now be headed by a member of the controversial Opus Dei religious sect.

The unit which is responsible for the implementation of the Civil Partnerships Act as well as the introduction of the Equality Bill later this year has been moved to form part of the new Department for Communities and Local Government.

The current junior minister for Women and Equality, Meg Munn will move with the unit and will join Ruth Kelly, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Women and Equality.

PinkNews.co.uk expects many to question the decision to appoint Ms Kelly as Minister for Women and Equality considering her membership of the Opus Dei religious sect. The branch of Catholicism has been criticised for its attitudes towards the role of women and its condemnation of homosexuality. As Minister for Women and Equality, Ms Kelly will be the voice of both women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community within the cabinet.

Despite her new role including the responsibility for implementing the Civil Partnerships Act, Ms Kelly did not vote for the introduction of the legislation that allows gay couples to hold civil ceremonies, she was absent on every occasion the issue was voted on. She did however, vote on one occasion to equalise the age of consent for gay and straight sex.

Earlier this year, PinkNews.co.uk revealed that the introduction of the Equality Bill as law, gay bars may no longer be able to bar entry to straight customers. In a memo leaked to the Sunday Times, Ms Munn said: “Some gay bars employ door staff who may screen potential customers wishing to enter by asking them questions designed to establish their sexual orientation or familiarity with the local gay scene.” The leaked memorandum states. “If customers were turned away only because their answers to these questions indicated that they were straight, this could be discrimination.

“A gay bar would still legitimately be able to turn away customers who they believed might be disruptive, or might wish to enter the bar to cause trouble.”