Where does the gay community fit into a Bill of Rights?
Conservative leader David Cameron wants to introduce a British Bill of Rights which would make up for what he describes as the negative consequences of the Human Rights Act on terrorism and crime, PinkNews.co.uk’s Marc Shoffman warns that the gay community must not be left out
David Cameron’s latest policy would mean introducing a codified document setting out principles of law which must be abided by, similar to the US Constitution, which as regular PinkNews.co.uk readers will know, can often dangerously be used against the gay community.
The Human Rights Act has been good to the gay community. Without it civil partnership and equality legislation may have been slower in coming to the fore and European law has certainly been more forthcoming in terms of transsexual identities and condemning homophobia based on the document.
The big question is how would a British Bill of Rights be formed? Who would be consulted on issues of how to define marriage or equality?
Is the Archbishop of Canterbury going to be happy if Peter Tatchell’s marriage definition overrides his and becomes enshrined in law forever?
A written constitution is dangerous because it lumbers you with a set of laws which are hard to repeal. The US is still stuck with centuries old principles allowing anyone to carry a gun and anti gay groups to protest at funerals. The recent Senate vote which happily avoided a constitutional definition of marriage as a male-female union only goes to show how the anti-gay lobby can try to impose their views on everyone else.
Great Britain is an evolutionary country, built on free debate and liberal democracy. The Human Rights Act, however generalised, provides adequate protection based on common goals which representatives from the UK have already contributed to.
Entrenching precise laws in 2006 will only present a risk to people in 2056 when the world may be vastly different.
If Cameron does one day become Prime Minister, and holds on to this ideal, he will have to think hard about who the important stakeholders in the law are when it comes to principles of this country. Opinion doesn’t just sit with judges and legal experts, but also with minority groups and the general public who are most affected.
The Human Rights Act has helped complainants override the government in areas of discrimination, can a document produced by the ruling powers still keep a check on authority?