In a nutshell
A vote on whether to include protections for churches and religious organisations within the Gender Recognition Bill.
On the 25th May 2004 Edward Leigh MP led a cross-party attempt to amend the Gender Recognition Bill. It would have written into the Bill protection for churches and religious organisations from the effects of the Bill.
The Government had already amended the Bill to include protection for sports competitions.
Before the Bill was even passed, churches were being threatened with legal action under the Bill by transsexuals. The Gender Recognition Bill would change the legal landscape, making it much more costly and difficult for churches to defend themselves.
The amendment would have provided protection for churches and religious organisations from the effects of the Gender Recognition Bill. It said: ” If a court’s determination of any question arising under this Act might affect the exercise by a religious organisation (itself or its members collectively) of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, it must have particular regard to the importance of that right.”1
The amendment was defeated by 106 votes to 298. The Government whipped its MPs to vote against it, but two Labour MPs (Lewis Moonie and Denzil Davies) defied the whip. The Conservatives and Lib Dems allowed their MPs a free vote.2
How we recorded the vote
- Voted for including protection for churches and religious organisations in the Gender Recognition Bill
- Voted against including protection for churches and religious organisations in the Gender Recognition Bill
- Abstained or was absent on the vote for including protection for churches and religious organisations in the Gender Recognition Bill
- 1House of Commons, Hansard, 20 May 2004, col. 1445
- 2The Gender Recognition Bill also introduced a new criminal offence for anyone in an official capacity (including church leaders and Christian employers) to disclose the true sex of a person with a gender recognition certificate. The offence is punishable by a fine of up to £5,000. Edward Leigh tabled a separate amendment to address this issue, but this amendment was not voted on.