Equality Commission sorry for Christian ‘infection’ jibe
Fri, 4 Mar 2011
The Government’s equality agency has said sorry for a sneering remark that implied Christian moral values are like an ‘infection’ that could harm children.
The taxpayer-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission had warned that children could be “infected” by the moral views of Christian foster parents who oppose homosexual behaviour.
The extraordinary 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.
But yesterday the Commission issued an apology. It also attempted to distance itself from the suggestion that sexual orientation rights take precedence over religious rights.
The offensive remarks related to a court case involving Eunice and Owen Johns, who say they have been effectively blocked by Derby City Council from fostering because of their Christian beliefs about homosexual behaviour.
A statement was published yesterday on the Equality Commission’s website. It reads: “Earlier this week the case of Johns v Derby City Council, in which the Commission had intervened, attracted some attention.
“Unfortunately a mistake within our legal submission led to an inference that we did not intend and which was misconstrued as suggesting that the Commission equates Christian moral views with an infection.
“This oversight was caused by a drafting error in our submissions to the court. This should have been picked up in our internal clearance process for the legal documentation and does not represent the position of the Commission in any way.
“Furthermore, the Commission entirely rejects any view (as reported in the media) that rights in relation to sexual orientation ‘take precedence’ over religious rights.
“The Commission fully upholds the rights of looked-after children to be supported in their chosen religion or that of their family, in the context of the paramount importance of the welfare of the child.
“The Equality Act provides protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief as well as on the grounds of sexual orientation and the Commission has produced extensive guidance to explain this legislation, which was introduced by Parliament.
“The Commission has written to Mr and Mrs Johns to apologise.”
The Johns’ legal defence was supported by the Christian Legal Centre. In a statement issued before the Commission’s apology, the Centre said: “Suggesting that Christian moral beliefs on sexual ethics could ‘infect’ children is an extraordinary position for a statutory body to take.
“It is also deeply insulting both to the Johns, who have a proven track record of successfully raising children, and to Christians in general.”