The equalities commission should be using its “enforcement powers” even more often, according to a controversial new recommendation by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee.
The recommendation, detailed in a letter sent to the Home Office by the Committee’s chairman, Labour’s Keith Vaz, was based on arguments provided by groups such as the homosexual lobby group Stonewall.
The Committee also expressed concern at the Home Office’s proposal to reform the Equality and Human Rights Commission via regulations, a process which would significantly reduce the chance for Parliamentary debate.
The taxpayer funded Commission, which this year has a budget of £53 million, has been hit by a number of anti-Christian gaffes.
Last month Home Secretary Theresa May revealed plans to strip the troubled quango of some of its powers, as she launched a consultation on its future.
In response Mr Vaz has written to Mrs May on behalf of the Committee and called for the Commission to make greater use of its “enforcement powers”.
However, the recommendation is likely to concern many Christians who have become increasingly troubled by the way in which the Commission has pursued legal cases against Christians trying to live in accordance with their beliefs.
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.
But it had to make an embarrassing u-turn last month when an attempt to demand more compensation backfired. The EHRC said the move was an “error of judgment”.
At the launch of the consultation last month Mrs May announced that the Government was to amend existing legislation to clarify the Commission’s responsibilities.
While he welcomed the 12 week long consultation Mr Vaz expressed reservation at the Home Office’s proposal to reform the EHRC via regulations.
He said: “We are, however, concerned by your proposal for any legislative changes to the Commission to be carried out by regulations made under the Public Bodies Bill currently going through Parliament.
“We consider that these measures merit proper parliamentary debate”.
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 apologised for the remark.
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’.