Certain rights are more “‘right'” than others in the eyes of the taxpayer-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), a prominent commentator has said.
Cristina Odone also highlighted the “distinctly religion-lite” make up of the Commissioners at the quango, saying it “must have influenced their position in recent rows where secularists have challenged believers”.
She said the “most outrageous of these” involved the Commission’s attempt to force the Christian owners of a B&B to pay yet more compensation to a homosexual couple.
In January Christian couple Peter and Hazelmary Bull were ordered by a judge to pay £3,600 in damages to a homosexual couple because of the B&B’s policy of only allowing married couples to stay in double rooms.
But earlier this month it was revealed that lawyers from the Equality Commission wanted the Bulls to pay even more.
However following negative publicity the EHRC’s bid was dropped, with the quango calling the move an “error of judgment”.
Cristina Odone, criticising the “£60 million” a year the watchdog costs to run, also said the “origins of the Commission were suspect from the beginning”.
And she said despite religion being one of the areas of equality it says it must protect, religion is “devoid of representation” amongst the Commissioners.
In 2007 the equality watchdog appointed an evangelical Christian as a Commissioner. His position however sparked a furious backlash.
In 2008 the Trades Union Congress called for Revd Joel Edwards, the then head of the Evangelical Alliance, to be fired from the equality group.
Earlier this month the EHRC had to apologise for a sneering 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 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.
Last week the Home Office announced that the EHRC was to be stripped of a number of its responsibilities.
Home Secretary Theresa May said “It’s vital that we have a strong, effective and independent equalities and human rights body”, but pointed out that from its creation the EHRC had struggled to deliver.
Last year the Commission was criticised by the Home Secretary for its “track record” of misusing taxpayers’ money.