the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity

Stonewall response to EHRC statement on religious 'discrimination' cases

Responding to the statement issued by the EHRC on their desire to intervene in European Court cases of claimed discrimination against Christians in the workplace Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive said:

'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.'


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