Harriet Harman failed to mention religion as she listed the grounds of discrimination that the Equality Bill aims to address.
Her comments came in a written, not spoken, statement, and will fuel concerns that the Bill will leave Christians as the poor relation when it comes to equality laws.
In yesterday’s official statement on the Bill, Miss Harman said that “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.”
The Equality Bill will revisit different areas of discrimination law, and campaigners are concerned that measures already being used against Christians could be made worse.
Public bodies like local councils will be able to “drive equality” by granting contracts to businesses which promote politically correct causes.
This could mean Christian businesses and charities which refuse to promote ‘gay rights’ will in turn be refused funding.
The Bill also provides for new “Equality Duties” to be placed on all public bodies, requiring them to positively promote “equality” on grounds like sexual orientation, transsexualism and religion.
However, a number of recent cases appear to have shown that under equality laws, where the rights of Christians clash with others, particularly ‘gay rights’, Christians are likely to lose out.
In recent weeks it has emerged that a Christian charity worker has been suspended under his employers’ diversity policy after chatting with a colleague about his beliefs on sexual ethics.
A Christian teacher has also been suspended for complaining about a training session which he said was used to promote ‘gay rights’ and marginalise those who disagreed.
Although the Equalities Office statement goes on to mention the religion positive duty, Miss Harman’s failure to mention religion in her remarks will stoke concerns that Christians can expect to lose out under the new Bill.