The Government’s equality enforcement agency will tackle ‘homophobia’ in religion, one of its senior figures has said.
Bradley Brady is Director of Stakeholder Relations at the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
His comments are likely to fuel fears that the rights of religious people come bottom of the pile at the Commission.
Mr Brady was speaking at a fringe meeting of the TUC conference on the subject of “Religion and Homophobia: No Compromise on LGBT Equality!”
According to the TUC website, The meeting was “organised by the TUC LGBT Committee to discuss recent events where individuals have claimed religious exemption from providing equal treatment for LGBT people, and how to promote a campaign for genuine equality.”
This is thought to be a reference to cases like that of Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar from Islington in London.
She recently won a legal action against Islington Council over its attempt to force her to register homosexual civil partnerships. An employment tribunal decided she had suffered discrimination and had also been bullied for her beliefs.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, and sexual orientation and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act.
According to its website, “the Commission is well equipped to take legal action on behalf of individuals, especially where there are strategic opportunities to push the boundaries of the law.”
And, “the Commission has significant powers to enforce the equalities duties of organisations and authorities, including, ultimately, launching official inquiries and formal investigations.”
A spokesperson for the Commission confirmed to The Christian Institute that Mr Brady’s comments about tackling ‘homophobia’ in religion were accurate.
“But,” the spokesperson said, “they should be placed within the context of the entire presentation he made. In the rest of his speech, Mr. Brady stressed that the Commission has duties to promote equality in a number of areas, including religion or belief.”
We also asked whether the Commission would strive to protect the rights of people of faith to express their religious beliefs on sexual ethics.
The Commission said, “If in the expression of those beliefs the legal rights of another group are violated, the Commission would not support that.”
Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute said, “The Commission is saying it will tackle homophobia in religion. But many activists regard biblical teaching on sexual ethics as inherently ‘homophobic’.
“Furthermore, can you seriously imagine a senior figure from the Commission saying it will tackle homosexual groups that interfere with religious liberty? No, nor can I.”