Fourteen MPs have come out in favour of the Equality and Human Rights Commision’s plan to step in in those court cases where Christian beliefs and gay rights collide.Last week the EHRC announced that not enough is being done to reach “compromises” and “reasonable accommodations” for religious individuals who do not wish to provide services to gay people.
It has not been confirmed as to what these ‘compromises’ may entail.
An early day motion, which doesn’t require parliament to take further action, was introduced this week. Tory MP Gary Streeter said the plans were “long overdue”.
It reads: “[T]his House welcomes the decision of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to intervene in support of four cases involving discrimination against Christians that are presently with the European Court of Human Rights; notes that this is a long overdue recognition of the need to defend religious liberty and marks an important development in relation to a better understanding of the role of faith in public life; and further welcomes the commission’s advocacy for reasonable accommodation in the workplace as an acknowledgement of the place of conscientious objection for those with religious belief.”
The EHRC’s move has faced a fierce backlash from gay rights groups. Though they have attempted to cover their backs by stating that the proposal will not diminish gay and lesbian rights.
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall CEO, has stated that he is “deeply disturbed” by the proposed action and is baffled as to how such a move was sanctioned without approval from board members.
Peter Tatchell lambasted the “shocking” decision.
He stated: “It is utterly appalling that the body established to challenge discrimination is now arguing that people of faith ought to have some degree of exemption from the equality laws.”
“The EHRC is, in effect, condoning discrimination by religious adherents. By taking up these particular cases, it is endorsing the view that believers should have the right to refuse to provide public services to people whose views or lifestyles they disapprove of, including apparently lesbians and gay men, and presumably also women and people of other faiths or no faith.” he added.
Six Labour MPs, three Tory MPs, two Lib Dems, two Democratic Unionists and one Social Democratic and Labour Party MP have all signed the motion.