Rev Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) has denounced the reactionary vote in the House of Lords to approve amendments to the Equality Bill which will enable churches and other religious bodies to discriminate in matters of employment.
On Monday 25th January the House of Lords debated amendments to the Equality Bill introduced by conservative Christians and others, including Conservative peer Detta O’Cathain, who claimed that religious liberty was being threatened.
Peers narrowly voted for these amendments which will allow Christian and other religious bodies exemption from anti-discrimination law when employing staff.
LGCM joined with several Christian and other faith groups, along with human rights campaigners, to denounce the vote.
Rev. Sharon Ferguson said: “LGCM notes with dismay and sadness the decision of the House of Lords. It strikes at the heart of equality and justice and sets up one rule for religious organisations and another for everyone else. LGCM of course agrees that for someone to be employed in a position which represents the faith of a church or other religious body it is entirely reasonable that a person should agree with, and reflect, the ethos of the faith community which employs them. But discriminating against all LGBT people purely because of their sexual orientation, regardless of the way they live their lives, is quite simply homophobic. It is sad that some Christians are taking pride in an amendment which makes Christian organisations able to operate at a lower level of fairness and equality than the rest of society. This is a dismal way to bear witness to the gospel and is not in keeping with the message and actions of the Christ they claim to follow. The vote on Monday does nothing other than sanction the forces of inequality among churches and religious groups and gives Christian and other religious bodies the right to discriminate.”