Government seeks views on latest ‘equality’ plans

The Government is beginning a consultation on proposals in the Equality Bill which could force public bodies to promote ‘gay rights’.

It wants to bring in a new Equality Duty requiring bodies like schools, local councils and hospitals to ‘promote equality’ on grounds including sexual orientation and transsexualism.

As part of the requirement to “drive equality” local authorities could refuse to grant contracts to businesses which don’t tick the right politically correct boxes.

One homosexual campaigner recently claimed that the Equality Bill will “entrench gay rights in all aspects of public life”.

Meanwhile, a spate of recent cases where Christians have faced problems under ‘equality’ rules has prompted questions about how the new laws will be applied.

There are concerns the plans could see more cases like that of nurse Caroline Petrie, accused of breaking equality and diversity guidelines by offering to pray for a patient.

Organisations which receive public funding could also suffer. When Pilgrim Homes, a Christian care home, refused to ask its elderly residents their sexual orientation every three months, it lost £13,000 public funding on the grounds that it was not meeting equality requirements.

Although there will also be a ‘religion’ Equality Duty, there are fears that this will lead local authorities to marginalise Christianity still further in order to avoid offending members of other faiths.

When she announced the Equality Bill, Equalities Minister Harriet Harman forgot on several occasions even to mention religion as a ground for equality.

In her official statement she said, “inequality is grounded not just in gender, race, disability, age and sexual orientation – but also by class. Your family or the place you were born.”

Announcing the consultation, Solicitor General Vera Baird said the new Duty would “embed equality in the heart of public bodies”.

The consultation runs until September 2009.

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