The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today responded to reports of division within the Government on the issue of gay rights with a call for all members of the cabinet not to give way to religious pressure in the area of equal rights for gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
In March of this year, the BHA called on the Government not to allow any exemptions in the forthcoming equality legislation saying, ‘To declare a prohibition on discrimination but then to exempt some people from that prohibition on the grounds that they themselves find discrimination morally acceptable makes a mockery of the law. It would not be acceptable in the areas of race, disability, age or religion or belief, and is not acceptable here…Either we hold human rights to be universal or we do not.’
A particular focus of religious campaigners has been schools and education, with organisations such as the Association of Christian Teachers demanding exemptions from the law for faith schools, but the BHA re-iterated its belief that, ‘To make any exemptions in this area would be to exacerbate the isolating and damaging effect of prejudice, homophobia and discrimination in schools and would represent a failure to protect some of our most vulnerable children…Regulations designed to eliminate discrimination against and harassment of children who are known to be particularly vulnerable should be unequivocal.’
Hanne Stinson, BHA Chief Executive, urged ‘This sort of pointless discrimination, whether motivated by personal dislike or religious prejudice, is always wrong. There should be no special treatment for some people just because their particular reason to treat another person unfairly is motivated by religion.’
Further enquiries can be addressed by email to Hanne Stinson or by telephone on 020 7079 3583
The British Humanist Association is the largest UK organisation representing and supporting the non-religious, campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief.
The British Humanist Association has been campaigning for equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people for more than forty years, and actively participated in the consultations and advisory groups around the Equality Act 2006 and the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.