Tuesday, July 12, 2011
At last, British equality police decide Christians DO have right to follow beliefs
Christians who disagree with gay equality rules should have the freedom to follow their conscience, a watchdog ruled yesterday.
In a major U-turn, the Equality and Human Rights Commission declared that judges should not have backed employers who pursued Christians for wearing crosses or for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples.
‘The way existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief,’ the commission said.
Just seven months ago it had championed the cause of civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy in their successful bid to sue Christian hoteliers who had refused them a double room.
But yesterday the commission, which is led by former Labour politician Trevor Phillips, said the law was confusing. The intervention by the equality quango follows protests at the weekend from Church of England leaders, who said judges had encouraged a legal ‘chill factor’ against Christianity.
It also comes at a time when the EHRC is facing action from Home Secretary Theresa May to curb its £60million a year spending. Mrs May has accused it of wasting money and failing to do its job.
Yesterday the commission said judges had interpreted equality laws too narrowly. Its lawyers have intervened to call for more leeway for Christians to express their beliefs and live by their consciences in four human rights test cases shortly to come before the judges of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The cases are those of Nadia Eweida, the BA check-in clerk who was told she could not wear a cross with her airline uniform, and of Shirley Chaplin, a nurse removed from the wards of her Exeter hospital because she refused to stop wearing her crucifix.
The commission also wants to raise the case of Lilian Ladele, a registrar removed from her job after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies, and Gary McFarlane, a Relate counsellor who declined to give sex therapy to gay couples.
Miss Ladele was refused permission to take her case to the Supreme Court because judges said no important legal principles were at stake.
Mr McFarlane’s case was brushed aside by Appeal Court judge Lord Justice Laws, who said: ‘Law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational … it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary.’
Yesterday the commission said: ‘Judges have interpreted the law too narrowly in religion or belief discrimination claims.The way existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief.
‘The courts have set the bar too high for someone to prove that they have been discriminated against because of their religion or belief; it is possible to accommodate expression of religion alongside the rights of people who are not religious and the needs of businesses.’
The commission said it wanted to see a new legal principle of ‘reasonable accommodations’ to allow a religious believer and their employer to reach a compromise. It said that under this principle, a Jew who did not wish to work on Saturdays could be given his or her wish simply by a change to work rotas. This would give religious believers similar legal status to disabled people.
Commission legal director John Wadham said: ‘Our intervention in these cases would encourage judges to interpret the law more broadly and more clearly to the benefit of people who are religious and those who are not.
‘The idea of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person’s needs has served disability discrimination law well for decades. ‘It seems reasonable that a similar concept could be adopted to allow someone to manifest their religious beliefs.’
The commission said there should be an end to legal confusion which has stopped some people from wearing crosses while others are allowed to do so, and which has led some employers into ‘unnecessarily restricting people’s rights’.
It added that because of the confusion in the law, ‘it is difficult for employers or service providers to know what they should be doing to protect people from religion or belief-based discrimination’.
When backing Mr Hall and Mr Preddy against the hotel, Mr Wadham had said: ‘The right of an individual to practise their religion and live out their beliefs is one of the most fundamental rights a person can have, but so is the right not to be turned away by a hotel just because you are gay.’
"Regional racism" in Britain
There is an underlying reality to this. Regional Britain IS looked down on by South-Easteners
Northern versions set in Liverpool of The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea will fuel 'regional racism', an MP has claimed. TV programmes Desperate Scousewives and Mersey Shore will reinforce the negative stereotype cast on Liverpool life, Labour MP Steve Rotheram claimed.
Wannabe contestants queued round the block for the chance to star in MTV's Liverpool version of Geordie Shore, while auditions for the Merseyside twist on American mega-hit Desperate Housewives are yet to take place. TV insiders said the Liverpool shows would give Southern rivals The Only Way Is Essex and Made In Chelsea a run for their money.
But Mr Rotheram, a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool, said the programmes will do more harm than good with fame-hungry contestants putting themselves in the firing line.
Mr Rotheram said: 'TV programmes about our great city seldom portray the positive side of Liverpool life. I think often simply reinforce the stereotype so I'm not looking forward to it. 'We've got to break this cycle. For some people down in London, Bread and Brookside were documentaries.
'You don't get the same suspended belief in Manchester about Shameless or Coronation Street or with cockneys about Eastenders for Only Fools and Horses. 'Why they think that something being made in Liverpool portrays ordinary Liverpool life I don't know, I don't understand. 'I don't think there is any doubt. It's one of the last great isms that needs to be tackled and it's regional racism. I'll definitely be switching off.'
The former bricklayer added that he too sometimes feels victimised by the prejudice aimed at his Liverpool roots. He said: 'No doubt about it, I get it all the time.It's so tired.
'This year Liverpool is hosting the Labour Party Conference and even people on my own side they are saying listen: ''If I come down in my car my hubcaps will be alright won't they''.'
A spokeswoman for E4 confirmed that Lime Pictures was developing Desperate Scousewives for the channel, but said nothing had been confirmed yet. Mersey Shore is already in production.
'Bosses are reportedly keen to sign up Wayne Rooney's cousins glamour model Natalie. They said there had been a 'massive' amount of interest from young people hoping to follow in the footsteps of stars such as The Only Way Is Essex cast member Amy Childs.
Australia: NSW Leftist politicians sent to ethics class
They sure need it
LABOR MPs will be sent to ethics classes after the former government recorded six scandals within eight weeks last year.
A review of the ALP's massive defeat at the state election this year recommends regular continuing education and training in ethics for all caucus members.
The ALP general secretary, Sam Dastyari, said the party would accept all recommendations of the review by former deputy premier John Watkins and the state secretary of the Queensland ALP branch, Anthony Chisholm. "We will be implementing every recommendation in full," he said.
The Labor leader, John Robertson, told the state ALP conference in Sydney at the weekend that the party had to be "honest with ourselves and honest with the people we represent".
The deputy leader, Linda Burney, is a strong advocate of further education and training for MPs, who she said had to "sink or swim" on entering Parliament.
The Watkins/Chisholm review said scandal had haunted the last term of the state Labor government. "Embarrassing, tawdry and devastatingly regular reports of scandalous, inappropriate and corrupt behaviour became the norm," the review said. "Those scandals ranged from the sordidly criminal to the adolescently stupid, but all did their damage.
"The party selected candidates who should never have been in Parliament. Whether that was due to centralised choice of candidates, factional patronage, abuse of the N40 rule or just carelessness, NSW Labor certainly paid dearly for its mistakes."
The review said education and training in ethical standards and ministerial duties and responsibilities may have helped avoid some of the scandals which included Karyn Paluzzano lying to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Paul McLeay viewing pornography at work, and Ian Macdonald's travel rorts [Sir Lunchalot!]
"There is no denying that those involved in scandal showed a deep lack of respect for the people of NSW, for the NSW Labor Party, for other members of caucus and for the government."
Geoff Gallop, from the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney, said it was a good idea to constantly remind public officials of the standards of behaviour expected of them. "It never hurts to remind MPs that they have an obligation, not an option, to act in the public interest," he said. "Many a politician has fallen foul of the law because they forgot that."
Australia: "Multiculturalism" is not confined to Melbourne
Sydney police have yet to learn that the race of offenders must be kept secret, apparently. Melbourne police have known that since about 2007
A GIRL'S pleas for help were ignored as she was being sexually assaulted by two men in a Sydney shopping mall, police said yesterday.
The 15-year-old was dragged into a garden bed by two men as she walked through Parramatta Mall at Church St about 2am on Sunday.
She told police she cried out for help to a nearby male but he apparently ignored her and kept walking.
After being released, the girl went to a fast food restaurant in the mall and told her friends what had happened.
They contacted police and a crime scene was set up. Police said the men they want to question are both of black African appearance and are appealing for anyone who can assist the investigation to come forward, particularly the male passer-by.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.