The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the decision of a judge to turn down the application to appeal against an earlier judgment which found that Gary McFarlane, a Christian relationship counsellor who lost his job after refusing to work with gay or lesbian couples, was not a victim of unlawful religious discrimination.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey intervened in the case, asking for special treatment of Christians in Court of Appeal hearings, with senior judges standing down from Court of Appeal hearings involving religious discrimination to be replaced with a specially selected panel of religious judges. Lord Justice Laws criticised Lord Carey, making clear that there can be no justification for different laws for religious believers, stating: ‘The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other’ and said if they did, then we would be ‘on the way to a theocracy.’
Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs, said, ‘Lord Justice Laws’ decision shows Lord Carey’s statement for what it is – a desperate cry from those unrepresentative few who are trying to retain the kind of privileges for religion that have no place in our modern, liberal and democratic society.’
‘A clear message has been sent out, that there can be no “opt out” from the law for those individuals, such as this counsellor, who do not wish to treat people equally on the basis of their religious beliefs.’
For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on 07540 257101.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.