The Equality and Human Rights Commission has decided that Christians who wish to discriminate against LGBTs when providing goods and services may have the legal right to do so.The Commission has decided that in future ‘compromises’ should be reached in cases where Christians feel unable to cater for LGBTs.
The shock statement comes on the back of its move to intervene in the cases of Lilian Ladele, a Christian registrar who refused to carry out civil partnership ceremonies, and Gary McFarlane, a sex counsellor who said he could not deal with same-sex cases.
A statement from LGB rights charity Stonewall reads:
‘Stonewall is deeply disturbed at the EHRC’s statement announcing applications to intervene in European Court cases of claimed discrimination against Christians in the workplace. The case features two individuals, Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane, who have refused to provide public services to gay people.
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. Gay taxpayers currently contribute £40 billion a year to the cost of Britain’s public services and no lesbian and gay person should ever be deprived of access to them.
The EHRC’s announcement, which has apparently been made by officers without consulting its board, confuses a settled legal situation that is currently clear. If employees are allowed to discriminate against gay people in the delivery of publicly-funded services, using the cloak of religion as justification, then we risk seeing a situation where Muslims may start refusing to treat alcoholics in hospital or social workers might decline to assist single mothers.
Recent research has demonstrated that the majority of religious people in Britain are proud of our progress toward gay equality. They understand that religious beliefs do not mean individuals have a right to treat lesbian, gay and bisexual people unfairly. We regret that the EHRC does not appear to support this sentiment. We hope it will now offer an unambiguous clarification of its position.’