Skip to comments.LONDON: Peers back gay rights laws despite protest ["charter for suing Christians"]
Posted on 01/11/2007 9:06:37 AM PST by sionnsar
Peers crushed attempts last night to block new homosexual rights laws despite fears that they are "a charter for suing Christians".
The House of Lords voted by 199 to 68 to back new regulations banning businesses from discriminating against gays in the provision of goods and services. Lord Tebbit, the veteran Conservative peer, warned that the new rules would leave "perfectly innocent people in fear of legal action from the fanatical wings of the lesbian, homosexual, gay pressure groups".
Campaigning groups, largely made up of Christians opposed to the new rules, will now take their fight to the courts in a judicial review scheduled for March.
Last night, the National Secular Society, which backs the rules, admitted that "the real battle" would be implementing the regime in England and Wales. The regulations, which mirror existing rules on sex and race discrimination, already apply in Northern Ireland but are due to be introduced across the rest of the UK by April.
Details of exactly how they will work in England, Scotland and Wales are expected to be published within weeks. It will almost certainly mean that bed-and-breakfast proprietors would be breaking the law if they refused a gay couple a double room because of their sexual orientation.
A wide range of church leaders and religious groups have condemned the regulations for undermining freedom of religion and conscience. There are also fears that they could have a serious impact on faith schools, charities and adoption agencies.
Last night, opponents in the Lords sought to strike a key blow by scuppering the Northern Ireland Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR).
Outside, hundreds of protesters staged a torchlit demonstration, shining torches into the sky, singing hymns and chanting "SOR, no, no, no". It was co-ordinated by the Christian Lawyers Fellowship but also attended by members of black churches and Muslim groups.
Lord Morrow, a Democratic Unionist peer, led calls for the regulations in Northern Ireland to be annulled and raised fears that the new regime would require a choice "between obedience to God and obedience to the State".
Lord Tebbit warned: "Whatever the intention of those who drafted the regulations, they are bound to create not only a shadow, or umbra, of prohibitions but a vastly wider penumbra of the fear of prosecution."
In the Daily Telegraph yesterday, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the former Lord Chancellor, said that the rules would affect "the individual seeking to practise his faith in his daily life".
But Lord (Chris) Smith of Finsbury, a former Labour Cabinet minister, condemned the opposition. Declaring himself a "gay man" and a Christian, Lord Smith accused opponents of arguing for the "right to discriminate and the right to harass".
For the Government, Lord Rooker denied that ministers were "riding roughshod" over the people of Northern Ireland.
The Christian Institute announced last night that a judicial review of the new laws in Northern Ireland would take place in March.
The review was granted after claims from the institute and other Christian groups that the rules interfered with their rights to act according to their beliefs under the Human Rights Act, a spokesman said.
Colin Hart, director of the institute, said: "The regulations are a charter for suing Christians."
I'm absolutely convinced Satan uses homosexuality as the cutting blade of the spear intended to quash Christianity.
"There is much more at stake than the Catholic Adoption Agencies requested opt outs, important as they are.
"Once again this atheistic Government ignores the majority view to appease the militant minority. The Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR) were never about gay rights.
"No, the real agenda from this Government is about turning this nation into a secularist state and it was convenient to use these SORs as the first major step in doing so.
"This is part of a much wider and bigger agenda to eradicate Christianity from our society and its institutions.. These new regulations show no respect whatsoever for the beliefs and values of people of faith including Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Jews and other minority faiths who have different morals and values to atheist, aggressive liberal secularist and militant gay groups.
"I hope the faith communities will now mobilise against New Labour at the next general election who have now revealed their true colours and their hidden agenda. New Labour is obviously hell bent on forcing its secularist, now not so hidden agenda on the British people, whether they like it or not!"
Their agenda is less and less hidden, as is so for a child's agenda. We pray for your people as well as our own; what is happening to Christianity in your land is scary. Brave Christian men are hurtfully missing.
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