I have two out gay friends who both attend their church every week, having noticed in the forthcoming Sexual Orientation Regulations there appears to be a clause that states ‘ a church can legally bar people who are suspected of being gay’. Is this correct?
SOR Northern Ireland Section 16(4) Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful for a minister —(a) to restrict participation in activities carried on in the performance of his functions in connection with or in respect of an organisation to which this regulation relates; or(b) to restrict the provision of goods, facilities or services in the course of activities carried on in the performance of his functions in connection with or in respect of an organisation to which this regulation relates,in respect of a person on the ground of his sexual orientation.(5) Paragraphs (3) and (4) permit a restriction only if imposed —(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 religions followers.(6) In paragraph (4) the reference to a minister is a reference to a minister of religion, or other person, who —(a) performs functions in connection with a religion or belief to which an organisation, to which this regulation applies, relates; and(b) holds an office or appointment in, or is accredited, approved or recognised for purposes of, an organisation to which this regulation applies.This clearly means a church can choose who its members are, and what activities people are allowed to participate in, on the grounds of sexuality.
SOR Northern IrelandRegulation 16(3) Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful for an organisation to which this regulation applies, or for anyone acting on behalf of or under the auspices of such an organisation to which this regulation applies —(a) to restrict membership of the organisation;(b) to restrict participation in activities undertaken by the organisation or on its behalf or under its auspices;(c) to restrict the provision of goods, facilities and services in the course of activities undertaken by the organisation or on its behalf or under its auspices; or(d) to restrict the use or disposal of premises owned or controlled by the organisation,in respect of a person on the ground of his sexual orientation.
Having just been admitted on to the Electorate of my local Church of England Parish with everyone aware that I am a widower,the survivor of a very long-term gay partnership,does this mean that I might be expelled?Well I shall just decamp to the local Unitarian Chapel across the town.I do think that if Ms Kelly waters down the SOR bill it will be with the cognisance of Gordon Brown our Prime Minister to be, who has never ever supported any pro-gay legislation in the Houses of Parliament.A good indicator of where the large gay vote should go come the next General Election,I think.Brown’s arrival in No.10 will,in my opinion, mean an end to any further progress on Gay Rights until there is a change of government.