Muslim MP calls for religion ‘equality duty’

Sadiq Khan MP wants new laws to force public bodies to promote equality between different religions, so that Muslims won’t be treated as ‘second-class citizens’.

However, there is concern that such laws may give public bodies an excuse to withdraw from any involvement with religion – particularly the Christian faith.

For example, in the news today, a college in Yorkshire has stopped using the words “Christmas” and “Easter” to avoid offending minority faiths.

The college says it has taken the steps to comply with Ofsted’s equality rules. But it has been criticised for over-interpreting the guidelines.

This scenario – of public bodies over-interpreting equality duties – is what some Christian groups fear.

The Government has announced that it is minded to place a duty on public bodies to promote equality across various strands including sexual orientation and religion.

However, it has also said that it will pay particular attention to how an equality duty may work with religion.

If there was an equality duty covering sexual orientation without one covering religion, this too could be used to undermine religious liberty.

The Equality Bill is a massive overhaul of the UK’s discrimination law. It is due to come before MPs in the next session of Parliament.