Another MP has withdrawn his name from a motion supporting proposals to give religious homophobes the right to ‘reasonable accommodation’ in the workplace.
Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders said the motion had caused a “great deal of upset” and did not clearly state its intentions.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission recently announced it would seek to advise in four court cases where Christians have claimed they suffered discrimination because they were not permitted to express their beliefs.
Two of the cases involve workers who refused to serve gay people – a registrar and a sex counsellor – and the EHRC said compromises and adjustments could be made for them in the same way as disabled people are accommodated at work.
Conservative MP Gary Streeter, who chairs parliament’s Christian group, tabled the early day motion in support of the move but denied it supports discrimination.
Mr Sanders is one of at least four MPs who have withdrawn their name from the motion. Liberal Democrat MPs Mike Hancock and John Hemming, plus Labour MP John McDonnell have all criticised the move.
Mr Sanders told the Herald-Express: “It’s caused a great deal of upset.
“It seemed to be against the persecution of people because of their faith, in this case Christian.
“It doesn’t tell you what these cases are. It’s actually the case that allows people to discriminate against people because they are gay.
“When a person is wanting to trade in a secular market place you can’t have discrimination.”
Early day motions are used to draw attention to issues and do not require action from MPs. However, Mr Streeter recently announced that a parliamentary inquiry will be held this autumn about Christians’ rights.
Speaking to the Western Morning News last week, Mr Streeter said: “This is about freedom of religion for everybody in this country, including Christians in their own country.
“A lot of people feel people of faith have been marginalised, and it’s time to debate that.”
He added: “We have been over-tolerant to a number of groups, apart from Christianity. There’s a sort of snarling anger if you do believe what the Bible says.”
Stonewall, Peter Tatchell and the Trades Union Congress have all strongly criticised the EHRC, with Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill calling the decision “deeply disturbing”.
Trades Union Congress wrote to EHRC chief executive Trevor Phillips to express “deep concern”.