By Bob Unruh – Originally published in World Net Daily
Homosexuals and atheists in the United Kingdom are raising objections to plans by their own government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission to defend Christians who have faced discrimination because of their faith.
“Wholly disproportionate,” said the British Humanist Association after the commission announced its plans to intervene in several human rights cases on behalf of Christians that are moving to the European Court of Human Rights.
“It is one thing to make the case for reasonable accommodation in matters such as religious holidays, and quite another if the accommodation sought to allow the believer to discriminate against others in the provision of a service,” said BHA chief Andrew Copson.
Ben Summerskill, chief of the homosexual advocacy institute called Stonewall, said in a report in PinkNews the move by the government panel left him “deeply disturbed.”
“The commission should be crystal clear that if it seeks to defend the claimed right of any public servant to turn away any user of a public service, it will face strong opposition,” he told the news publication.
The reaction fired up when the nation’s Equality and Human Rights Commission announced that judges have been ruling on the laws of the United Kingdom regarding human rights “too narrowly.”
It cited four situations, British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, who was sent home from work after refusing to remove a cross necklace; counselor Gary McFarlane, who was fired for declining to advise homosexuals on their relationship; Lilian Ladele, who was disciplined for refusing as a registrar to conduct “marriage” ceremonies for homosexuals; and Shirley Chaplain, a nurse who was ordered to a desk job because she was wearing a cross necklace.
The commission said it was asking to intervene in the disputes as they are moved through the European Court of Human Rights, and in the announcement from the commission’s legal director, John Wadham, he said, “Our intervention in these cases would encourage judges to interpret the law more broadly and more clearly to the benefit of people who are religious and those who are not.”
He noted, “The idea of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person’s needs has served disability discrimination law well for decades. It seems reasonable that a similar concept could hbe adopted to allow someone to manifest their religious beliefs.”
Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, which has fought some of the battles at hand, said, “We await the precise details of the legal intervention by the commission, but we are encouraged by the tone of their announcement. It is a step in the right direction.”
He continued, “We certainly believe more could be done to allow for a reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs in the workplace, and we hope that the courts will adopt a more tolerant approach to protecting religious liberty.”
One of the more alarming results came in a dispute over a Christian couple who wanted to resume their work fostering children.
They were told they could not because they refused to promote homosexuality to children.
In the resulting High Court case, the judges, Lord Justice Munby and Mr. Justice Beatson, said Christians’ rights must be limited.
They cited Article 9 of the European Convention, which explains all have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the related “practice and observance.” However, they ruled that the “manifestation” of Christianity is subject to “qualifications.”
They said it “cannot therefore be justified” that a position “held purely on religious grounds” could be defended by the law.
“It is important to realize that reliance upon religious belief, however conscientious the belief and however ancient and respectable the religion, can never of itself immunize the believer from the reach of the secular law. And invocation of religious belief does not necessarily provide a defense to what is otherwise a valid claim,” they wrote.
The British Humanist Association said, “When a third of our state schools have the capacity to discriminate against staff and pupils because they are of the wrong or no religion, when public services are being contracted to religious groups with huge opt outs from equality and human rights law, and when community cohesion in this country is being threatened by the misguided emphasis given to religion in public policy, the idea that the most pressing issue on which our equality commission should spend its public money is alleged discrimination against Christians wanting to wear religious symbols is ridiculous.”
Paul Diamond, a barrister who worked on the case involving the prospective foster parents, said there was no point in appealing the High Court ruling, as the UK now has an entrenched bias against Christians.
In a commentary posted by the Christian Legal Centre website, Diamond, who represented the family, said it now is up to the people to redirect their nation, as the courts have proved they won’t.
“This liberal tyranny must be rejected by the British people. The law is now prejudiced, irrational and partial; it punishes individuals for ‘thought crime’ and the state endorses an inverse morality,” he wrote.
“Many British people despair of the law enforcement agencies and have (rightly) little confidence that they will achieve justice in the courts. There is no reason in law or otherwise why sexual orientation rights should prevail over religious rights. There is something deeply wrong with the ethical and legal compass of Britain,” Diamond said.
Diamond said the question is pertinent “in light of the fact that I have reluctantly advised the [family] not to appeal; such an appeal would normally be expected but now, in my opinion, futile – a waste of resources. The courts are so set against religious freedom for Christians that an appeal is likely to only make matters worse.”
He said it’s a combination of “bad laws” and “poor judicial appointments.”