The Christian Institute

News Release

MPs will vote tonight on ‘gay rights’ regulations

MPs will vote tonight (Monday 19 March) on whether to approve the Government’s controversial Sexual Orientation Regulations. Many faith-based groups say the proposed laws threaten their religious liberty because of their beliefs on sexual ethics.

Last week the Government was accused of forcing through the highly contentious laws without proper parliamentary scrutiny. A hastily convened committee of 17 MPs had less than 17 hours notice before it voted on the regulations. More than 20 additional MPs crowded into the small committee room. Many of them protested against the lack of time for proper debate. In the seven days before the committee met, the regulations were withdrawn and re-laid three times in order to correct mistakes. This shows just how much the Government is rushing the regulations through Parliament.

During the brief committee debate the Shadow Equality Minister, Eleanor Laing MP – though backing the regulations – criticised the Government for introducing these laws in the form of secondary rather than primary legislation.

The Shadow Attorney General, Dominic Grieve MP, also questioned the Government’s view that the laws do not cover the school curriculum. He said, ” My understanding is – although I stand to be corrected – that counsel advising the Joint Committee [on Statutory Instruments] has a completely different view from that of the Government about whether the school curriculum is covered.” (col. 7)

A £600,000 Government-funded project has been set up to teach children as young as five that homosexuality is normal. The project promotes pro-gay picture books for children as young as five. Spokeswoman for the project, Dr Elizabeth Atkinson, told newspapers on Monday that: “The purpose of the project is to support schools in meeting their requirements under the Equality Act, which will require all public institutions to meet the needs of gay and lesbian users.”

The Lords Merits Committee, which met on 13 March, also criticised the Government for leaving an unusually short timeframe between tabling the regulations and seeking the approval of Parliament, especially since the regulations had to be laid and withdrawn twice (now three times) to correct drafting errors.

In tonight’s vote there will be no debate on the regulations and MPs cannot suggest amendments. The regulations are presented on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ basis.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said today: “The Government is clearly stifling debate on these contentious regulations. They were published on the day MPs debated Lords reform; they were rushed through a hastily-convened committee of MPs who had less than a day to read the final regulations and a 90 minute meeting to consider them; they will be debated in the Lords on the same day as the Budget. Given the level of controversy surrounding these regulations, this is deeply undemocratic.

“The Government is ignoring the sincerely-held views of religious groups who have every reason to fear these regulations. The Equality Act was supposed to prevent religious discrimination, but these Sexual Orientation Regulations enshrine it.

A Government-funded project is openly preparing to use the regulations to insist that schools adopt pro-gay picture books for children as young as five. The Government has been less than frank about the impact of these regulations on the curriculum.”