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Exemptions allowing churches to refuse to employ gays to be scrapped following pressure from EU

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  1. Jean-Paul Bentham 22 Nov 2009, 6:05pm

    ‘EU equal opportunities commissioner, Vladimir Špidla, told the Observer: “We call on the UK government to make the necessary changes to its anti-discrimination legislation as soon as possible so as to fully comply with the EU rules.”‘

    Ha! It took the EU to put equal civil rights for gays back into the Equality Bill! BNP must be squirming now, innit.

  2. Right, now stop moaning about the EU, people!

  3. excellent news

  4. Julian Morrison 22 Nov 2009, 7:22pm

    Britain doesn’t accept that racist organizations can keep out blacks – see the recent court judgement against the BNP – or that men’s clubs can keep out women, so why should it permit religions to keep out gays, women, transsexuals, whomever? Let them integrate, or get out.

  5. Har Davids 22 Nov 2009, 7:27pm

    This is going to get some people’s knickers in a twist all over Europe, with all those politicians pandering to religious nuts. But as Groucho Marx has said: “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.”, this will probably be a storm in a tea-cup. Of course, people can always apply for jobs with these homophobic clubs, if only just for laughs.

  6. “This is going to get some people’s knickers in a twist all over Europe,”

    . . . well I hope so

  7. Thank God for the EU. The labour government like to congratulate themselves on the equality measures they’ve introduced for gays, but the truth is most of it has been imposed on them by the EU. It’s great news that these religious hypocrites are being made to fall in line with everyone else, and as for their “strongly held religious convictions” (which they seem to pick and choose according to what suits them) it seems to me that this is just a cover up for their blatant bigotry.

  8. Andrew Reeves 22 Nov 2009, 9:24pm

    I agree, stop knocking the EU and what it does. Also I had written a blog post only this morning about the Church of Scotland blocking someone trying to do their Minister training because they are openy gay. Read it here – http://bit.ly/6Bdqss

  9. Brilliant news! Why should religions be given special opt outs from the law? They’d be the first to fuss if we tried to discriminate against them.

  10. Wanna bet…?
    Just watch the feathers fly now in Rome.
    Old Benny’ll be madder ‘n a wet hen.
    Keith.

  11. BrazilBoysBlog 22 Nov 2009, 11:11pm

    Christian charity Care told the Observer: “If evangelical churches cannot be sure that they can employ practising evangelicals with respect to sexual ethics, how will they be able to continue?”

    Who the hell cares?????

  12. “Right, now stop moaning about the EU, people! ”

    For more than 8 billion a year, which we could use to pay our debt off or support our poorest people what do we actually get?
    We get nothing from the EU except for hundreds of knob heads poking their noses into every aspect of our lives
    We got more from our commonwealth market and the EU has weakened our economy and undermines our government with all their crap

  13. I suppose my view point is probably skewed by my American perspective, but I find it alarming that the European Union can tell a sovereign nation what legislation it may pass. It should be up to individual nations how they wish to govern their people. Also, I don’t think churches or religious organizations should be forced to hire lgbt individuals. Just as lgbt organizations should not be forced to hire a religious fundamentalist.

  14. Jean-Paul Bentham 23 Nov 2009, 2:36am

    The times they are a-changing…

  15. Mihai Bucur 23 Nov 2009, 4:23am

    Re SamH: the UK voluntarily joined the EU and can leave at anytime it wishes. Furthermore, the EU Anti-Discrimination Directive, which the UK must comply with, had to be unanimously supported by the governments of all EU states before it could enter into force (back in 2000).

    So, really, the EU is not any different to the United States, where the states must also comply with the federal constitution. For instance, Roe v Wade, Brown v Board of Education and Lawrence v Texas were both instances of a federal body (in that case, a court) telling states what to do. Would you similarly defend the right of states like Texas to continue criminalising homosexuality on the basis that “we cannot tell a state what legislation it may pass”?

  16. SamH:- “I suppose my view point is probably skewed by my American perspective, but I find it alarming that the European Union can tell a sovereign nation what legislation it may pass. It should be up to individual nations how they wish to govern their people”

    I’m surprised you think that, especially because you are from the US. Doesn’t the Federal Government in the US have the power over the individual states, in matters of judiciary and legislative power for example?

    And I think you missing the point, membership of the EU is on the basis of certain fiscal and rights criteria, one of them is equality. We have a Charter of Fundamental rights which is now legal. The British government (and the Irish government with the exact same legislation) is in beach of this by allowing an organisation to refuse employment.

    The EU is doing what Britain signed up for it to do, and that is protect human rights. No one has any right to discriminate, no matter what they think god tells them to do. And again, you are missing that key fact the religious organisations run schools and hospitals in many places in Europe and receive state funding (that’s MY taxes), so should they have the right to refuse a job to a better doctor, because he’s gay? Or a teacher? Or a nurse?

    No, they don’t.

  17. Brian Burton 23 Nov 2009, 9:00am

    In the 21st. Centuary, there should’,t be opt-outs for even Religious organisations. Opt-out by definition means devision!

  18. The EU has its good points. Why we should suffer because of peoples cavemen beliefs in sky fairys?

  19. If organisations such as CARE feel unable to run themselves without discriminating against people (of any group) then damm right they shouldn’t exist! If they fold because they can’t operate in an equal-opportunities world, then the quicker they collapse the better…let fairer groups run the services they provide instead.

  20. Totally with SamH on this. I feel we are gaining support in some religious quarters and to forcably remove the opt-out may indicate “times..a-changing”, as much as i disagree with the opt-out, this may actually increase discrimination against us.

  21. Bishop Ioan 23 Nov 2009, 10:24am

    The groups that practice anti-GLTQ discrimination are very unlikely to be pro-GLBTQ either now or in future. These people need to be dragged, kicking and screaming if need be-into the 21st Century. It is too easy for bigots to hide behind their religion. Let’s give them one less bush to hide in.

  22. …but do we really WANT talented and imaginative people working for the church?

  23. One thing I will say about all this is as much as I’m sure it’s right, life ain’t ‘alf gonna be dull when we all have to think and do the same thing!

  24. Good for the EU.

  25. the EU is helping fight homophobia unlike the UK where many still pander to religious homophobes and yet some make it seem like the EU is the problem

  26. “life ain’t ‘alf gonna be dull when we all have to think and do the same thing!”

    Oh, this won’t change how they think, Harvey – these churches can think all gays are from the 9th level of hell for all I care – this is not about thought control, this is about the right of the individual to seek gainful employment without someone saying they won’t employ them becuase they don’t “like them”. Just like a person is entitled to gainful employment without being refused on the basis of skin colour.

    Besides, in order to be consistent with their belief system, they should also seek the the right to refuse to employ divorced people, people living with their un-wed partners, people who have had sex outside marriage, the list is endless….

    ….but no, they only want to discriminate against gays. How bizarre, don’t you agree Harvey. Sounds to me like like selective bigotry than thought control.

  27. Good news that the EU is standing by its own regulations – nice work.

  28. Wasn’t on about what They think mate but more how we think. Maybe you should read my comment properly and my other comment (20)

  29. I did read your comments. You don’t agree with the opt out. I do. You didn’t give any thing else as to why this will “increase discrimination” against us. Maybe you should read my comments before making an assessment of my reading skills, “mate”, at least I gave reasons.

  30. Simon Murphy 23 Nov 2009, 1:20pm

    No 20: Harvey: “I feel we are gaining support in some religious quarters and to forcably remove the opt-out may indicate “times..a-changing”, as much as i disagree with the opt-out, this may actually increase discrimination against us. ”

    The churches don’t deserve to have the opt-out from the equality legislation.

    That’s an utterly absurd position.

    The churches receive massive amounts of state funding for their schools; their buildings etc. They all need to be subject to the same laws as any other company or business.

    A religious opt-out from equality legislation is disgusting and their desire to have this opt-out shows how abhorrent and hateful these churches really are.

    The churches who want the opt-out are no different from the BNP.

    We are not meant to say that though because apparently their bigotry is justified by their ‘god’.

  31. I think the opt-out should be a UK decision. Surely the UK knows when it it best for the public not the EU. I am all for the opt-out but I do think it should come at a time when we are gaining much more support from religious corners. I noticed all are saying about 1 religion mind not others. Some of the C of E church do except gay people as do fewer others. To force this opt-out will increase discrimination against gay people, as most people get sick of the over-exposure of the cause. The age of consent came down when public opinion was as its best. Same with Civil Partnerships. They are now law and most of the public support it. To force this opt-out may well create a backlash. In time I think this law would be accepted.

    I do notice that with these religious stories a lot of people seem to go straight for the Church of England, not Muslim or others. I also notice that we spout on about how badly treated we are by the church when a lot of views have changed. Some of the comments from gay people could be just as discriminating against Christians. Does it become acceptable to discriminate against religion just because we are. Two wrongs don’t make it right. We all know what each religious book says, but Christians do seem to be more accepting. Not as much as the Jews I admit but certainly more than most Muslims. Maybe if we showed that we didn’t let them bother us, note them just for the bigots they are and went about our business, support for our causes may come sooner.

    Support comes to those that are happily going about their lives, giving the community as much support and we expect. If we whinge it just gets annoying.

  32. Simon Murphy:-

    I don’t agree with single faith schools. I believe All children should be taught the same and taught about the different religions together. Just the same as being taught sex education as gay is as acceptable as being sraight.

  33. The Halcyon 23 Nov 2009, 1:53pm

    Welcome news. Of course the EU now has to ensure the other 26 member states are similarly embracing of their LGB bretheren.

  34. Simon Murphy 23 Nov 2009, 2:01pm

    “I don’t agree with single faith schools. I believe All children should be taught the same and taught about the different religions together. Just the same as being taught sex education as gay is as acceptable as being sraight. ”

    But Harvey – there are huge numbers of single faith schools in the UK most of whom receive state funding. If the religions are allowed this opt-out then they are free not to hire people because their views on homosexuality differ from that of the religion, and they can sack people who don’t toe the line on matters relating to homosexuality and contraception etc.

    I would prefer if all faith schools were shut. That’s not going to happen though. The opt-out is unacceptable as it would allow thousands of schools and hospitals which have a religious ethos to discriminate against a group of people they don’t like.

    That is utterly unacceptable.

  35. SamH (13): “…but I find it alarming that the European Union can tell a sovereign nation what legislation it may pass.”

    Then I suppose that you would be in agreement with the principle of Texas’ cessation from the american union of states as has been mentioned by the texan governor if it represented the wishes of the texans?

    Britain can leave the EU any time it wants. Should we do so, however, we would be forced to tolerate the peals of laughter from the likes of Putin as we try to negotiate deals for resources without the clout of the EU single market.

  36. “Maybe if we showed that we didn’t let them bother us”

    That’s a very simplistic view, and if you don;t mind me saying, somewhat cowardly. Would it bother you to be refused a job in a hospital because you were gay? Or what if you were a gay teacher in a catholic school, would it bother you to be fired for no reason other than your sexuality? What about a charity worker being fired by a Christian adoption agency for being gay, that wouldn’t bother you? Then again, why stop there, why not let people fire black people, like the way Mormons believe black people are inferior, as the bible supposedly tells the? Or prevent women from working or driving, as they should be at home anyway according to some Muslim “religious” types?
    If you were the one fired and because of a flimsy religious belief, you would let it bother you, I can assure you!

    The day a society allows discrimination based on belief, is the day it begins to move towards a dictatorship of the “elite”. If the EU have to intervene on behalf of human and equal rights, what does that say about your government….

  37. Brian Burton 23 Nov 2009, 2:07pm

    Harvey,
    You talk the talk of the wise! I’m a gay Christian and want fully everything an atheist-Gay wants in equal rights, and I know there are many more of us also, and yet we are castigated for being what we want to be–Gay Christians! Church music, Ministers, Vergers and Gay in congregations. So, there is far more Gays associated with the Churches than one normally imagines!

  38. Paul Brownsey 23 Nov 2009, 2:09pm

    (1) SamH says (13): “…but I find it alarming that the European Union can tell a sovereign nation what legislation it may pass.”
    What’s so wonderful about nations? Nation-states usually came into being by a series of accidents orchestrated by thugs and other no-goods. The way we are all encouraged to go goo-goo (“My country right or wrong,” “America – love it or leave it,” etc) at the mention of whichever particular geo-political entity we happen to have been born in is bizarre. How great it is when some other agency reins in one of these strange geo-political entities from oppressing those it claims as its citizens or subjects.

    (2) George says (19): “If organisations such as CARE feel unable to run themselves without discriminating against people (of any group) then damm right they shouldn’t exist!” CARE doesn’t just want to run itself: it wants to run everyone else. One of my local councillors who belonged to CARE fought tooth and nail to get the local council (East Dunbartonshire) to refuse to allow Civil Partnership ceremonies (as distinct from registrations). I’m glad to say he lost, not finding a seconder, but the awful thing is that he tried. Often, Christians who claim they are being persecuted are merely being impeded in imposing their religion on others.

  39. I would have thought sexual orientation was a private matter, how would anyone know if they were employing a homosexual person. I have never had to give my sexual orientation for a job interveiw. Is it ever asked for? If so, that would be discrimination too.

  40. “and yet we are castigated for being what we want to be–Gay Christians!”

    You are not being castigated for being Christians, your organisation are being asked not to discriminate against gay people. Very, very different. Any religions that needs to oppresses a section of society to further its beliefs system is not for the good of society or the tights of the individual to a safe and fair society.

  41. “I have never had to give my sexual orientation for a job interveiw. Is it ever asked for? If so, that would be discrimination too.”

    And if it emerges during the course of your work for whatever reason that you are gay, you think its okay then to be fired without legal recourse becuase of your sexuality? That’s what will happen with this law, its already the case in Ireland. Should people be obliged to keep their sexuality, and their partner, quite and secret just to keep their job?

  42. Good move by the EU! No discrimination should be allowed on Relgious grounds!

  43. Will:- I’ve worked in a hospital, as well as other places. I have never hidden the fact I’m gay however never felt the need to scream it to all that move. I was taught RE in school but never told being gay was wrong (though never told it was right either). I grow up with very religious parents who shared the bible beliefs so believe me I DO know how it feels. Luckily they are the most caring parents whose views have changed and except me and my partner more than a lot of parents would. Its all about understanding or rather the fear of not understanding thats the real problem.

  44. George Manning 23 Nov 2009, 2:29pm

    @ Brian. Grow up. “Gay Christian” is a contradiction in terms. What you mean to say is you’re a “coward who supports an organisation that discriminates against yourself”.

    @ Will. The day a society allows discrimination based on belief, is the day it begins to move towards a dictatorship of the “elite”:- Great line. Is it a quote?

  45. Maybe we should all take time out to see how lucky we all are. Whilst i agree more could be done, we have legal rights, civil partnerships etc. We’re so priviledged compared with the experiences of those of Iran to name but one…

  46. “Luckily they are the most caring parents whose views have changed and except me and my partner more than a lot of parents would.”

    Harvey, I don’t dispute this, I think you’re very lucky to have parents who were wise and intelligent enough to accept their son despite their beliefs, or to actually change their beliefs becuase of you.

    But that doesn’t detract from a law that allows an organisation to discriminate against people just on sexuality and simply becuase they believe it to be okay. The law is there for the good of all its citizens, not a religious majority (or minority). This law says to society at large, its okay to condemn, and offer another less rights just becuase you belief it to be so…. its how the KKK got started. Its why 6m Jews ended up in a gas chamber. Its not what human rights in a democracy is about.

  47. Brian Burton 23 Nov 2009, 2:49pm

    George Manning,
    I had already grown (more than your puny self will ever grow!) when I watched Lord Montague, Michael Pitt-Rivers and Peter Wildblood Sent to Prison for Homosexual offences in the late 1950s. So, before religion there was the State creating it’s laws. Laws made by right-wing narrow minds of the ruling classes that was once. You Freely use the word ‘Coward’ as though you know what a coward is? I think an apogogy is required from you Mr. Manning!

  48. Robert, ex pat Brit 23 Nov 2009, 2:53pm

    Well done, EU. NOBODY should be above the law. Now lets hope the EU goes an extra mile and mandate full marriage equality and disestablishing state religion altogether. Let them support themselves instead of sponging off the state and taxpayers alike as well as go out and find real jobs.

  49. Simon Murphy 23 Nov 2009, 2:59pm

    The religions have a choice.

    They should either abide fully with the equality laws (which the EU says they must do) or they must not be paid a single penny from the state purse and must lose all their tax exemptions and charitable statuses and all the other fringe benefits they get.

    Religion is an industry which needs money to survive the same as any other industry. If they want special treatment when it comes to their funding and taxing (which no other group enjoys) then they damned well should abide fully with the laws of the land.

  50. George Manning 23 Nov 2009, 3:36pm

    Apology for what? You trying to gain acceptance of an organisation that doesn’t accept you and condemns you, and us, at every turn? No, I will not apologise for that. You are a coward, you just can’t see it. Its you who needs to apologise to the rest of us for support an organisation that is oppressing the rest of us. Maybe coward was the wrong word. Stupid is probably a better one.

    Oh, and Brian, age is not an indicator of wisdom, as in your case. Grow up still applies to you, you have obviously still an awful lot to learn.

  51. Brian Burton 23 Nov 2009, 5:05pm

    George Manning,
    You are what I should have said in the first inctance, you are a total Scum-Bag who is not fit to lick my boots-Go piss up your Kilt and play with the steam-clown!

  52. Can’t help thinking that once you start insulting one another you’ve lost the arguement!

  53. Brian Burton 23 Nov 2009, 5:29pm

    Harvey, You can’t argue with a congenital idiot!

  54. Brian ‘Grow-up’ is just patronising, Your comments just plain rude. No need fella!

  55. Brian Burton 23 Nov 2009, 5:59pm

    Harvey, I’ve finished on this thread.

  56. @SamH:

    You would be correct in saying that your viewpoint is skewed. Why do people think that the EU is a jail of some sort? The European Comission is just a guardian of contracts, and Vladimir Špidla was put forth by the Czech republic to fill this post, he wasn’t somehow imposed upon us.

    I dislike the “hard” separation of powers in the USA immensely, yet I don’t spew nonsense on these boards. Please educate yourself.

  57. Keith Bradley-Wilson 23 Nov 2009, 11:33pm

    “Christian charity Care told the Observer: “If evangelical churches cannot be sure that they can employ practising evangelicals with respect to sexual ethics, how will they be able to continue?”

    Very simple: they won’t!

  58. George Manning 24 Nov 2009, 7:53am

    “you are a total Scum-Bag who is not fit to lick my boots-Go piss up your Kilt and play with the steam-clown!”

    What are you, 5 years old?!? LOL. What a truly fabulous intellectual response that was. And so cutting too! You are simply a darling of an idiot, Brian!

  59. There are a lot of positive comments about this news, which is understandable from the headline. But I read the whole article, and I’m more concerned than overjoyed:

    “The Commission reportedly agreed with the complaint saying “exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for religious employers are broader than that permitted by the directive”.”

    From my perspective, the actual breadth of acceptable discrimination is sufficiently narrow that they don’t stand-up at all… ie. none!

  60. BrazilBoysBlog 27 Nov 2009, 2:45pm

    We fought long and hard for some sort of level legal playing field. If it takes the EU to ‘impose’ one… the same EU that we voted to join and choose to remain in, then more power to the EU I say! I also agree with Paul’s comments re: Nation States (38) When anyone asks me here in Brazil, I’m a ‘European’, not ‘British’.

    ..and as for the comment above (59), you have miss-read it… The commission was saying that (the churches) are using broader exceptions than are permitted by the directive… They therefore agreed with the complaint and call upon the UK Government to abide with the rules. So it IS a cause to celebrate.

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