The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) must rethink its “discriminatory” attitude towards religious liberty, a Roman Catholic group has warned.
In a frank letter to the EHRC, Jamie Bogle, chairman of the Catholic Union, has urged the Commission to protect religious rights.
The Commission funded the recent case of a same-sex couple who sued the Christian owners of a B&B over their double bed policy.
Despite winning the initial case the EHRC sought more damages from the Christian couple, but it was forced to make a u-turn last month following negative publicity. The EHRC described the move as an “error of judgment”.
In his letter, Mr Bogle said: “it is disturbing that, under a system where there is meant to be equality of rights, there appears to be a growing trend towards treating some rights, such as sexual rights, as greater and more important than others, such as the right to religious freedom.
“That is already a form of discrimination and inequality in itself and is self-contradictory and self-defeating.
“How can a human rights agency promote equality by doing so unequally, or prevent discrimination by doing so in a discriminatory manner? It’s a nonsense.”
He added: “Religious freedom does not simply mean the right to attend religious services and nothing more but must also involve the right not to be coerced in matters of religion and related issues of conscience.”
The Commission has been embroiled in a string of controversial cases.
Last month the EHRC had to apologise for an extraordinary remark that implied Christian moral values are like an ‘infection’ that could harm children.
It had warned that children could be “infected” by the moral views of Christian foster parents who oppose homosexual behaviour.
The remark was published in legal paperwork prepared by Karon Monaghan QC for a court case involving a Christian couple struggling to be approved as foster parents.
The Commission has previously said that making girls wear skirts as part of a school uniform policy is “potentially unlawful”, claiming it may discriminate against girls who believe they are boys.
Responding to the EHRC claim, one columnist said it showed the ‘loony Left’ policies of the 1980s had been embedded in the group.
Leo McKinstry wrote: “Such an edict would be laughable were it not so indicative of the disturbing mindset of the equality bureaucrats who wield such control over our lives.”
The Commission has also claimed that discrimination laws should treat veganism as a belief, and that vegans should be afforded the same protection as religious groups.
It called for people to be questioned about their sexual orientation each time they visit hospital A&E departments, report crimes to the police, or respond to a major survey.
They also wanted to store the results on a giant database, which would have allowed for checks on possible ‘inequality’.