MP slams Hain for sidelining Parliament
A member of an influential Parliamentary committee has strongly criticised Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain, for sidelining Parliament over controversial new gay rights laws.
David Simpson MP (DUP, Upper Bann) is a member of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments – responsible for scrutinising Statutory Instruments for Parliament. Mr Simpson is outraged that, because of Government timetabling, MPs will be forced to vote on the Sexual Orientation Regulations ( Northern Ireland) before the committee has reported on the regulations.
Mr Simpson says the committee has serious questions about how the regulations may interfere with freedom of religion under the Human Rights Act.
The regulations outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services. Religious groups involved in social projects fear they could be sued because of their conscientious beliefs on sexual ethics.
A church adoption agency could be closed down because it only places children with married couples; a Bed & Breakfast run by Christians could be sued if it will not provide a double room to a gay couple; a Christian magazine could face litigation for refusing to place a gay rights advertisement; or a Christian wedding photographer could be fined for declining to cover a civil partnership ceremony.
Mr Simpson said today,
“The Government’s timetabling makes a mockery of the Parliamentary process. How are MPs supposed to make an informed decision about the Sexual Orientation Regulations before the committee has had a chance to report? We have serious questions about how the regulations could interfere with religious liberty under the Human Rights Act. Peter Hain is rushing these regulations onto the statute book and seems prepared to sideline the Parliamentary process in order to do so.”