Writing to my MP on SORs
I have finally gotten round to writing to my local MP, Mark Prisk, about the Sexual Orientation Regulations. Mark is a fantastic local MP who balances being the Shadow Minister for Small Business and Enterprise and also spending time addressing the concerns of his constituents.
I think the area where Christians should be concentrating their efforts in opposing this Act is in the field of the church’s sacramental practice, namely preaching, discipling and sharing Communion. A lot of the criticism recently has been, for example, about Christian B&B owners being allowed to not let out their rooms to a homosexual couple. Frankly, I’m not too sure why a private individual engaging in a commercial act should be able to place limits on the provision of services and goods, so I think the Equality Act is actually a step in the right direction here. But, as I have raised before the issues of protection of religious rights is the key aspect we should be focussing on. In particular I would like a Government Minister to answer the following questions:
- As a clergyman I believe the Act as it stands would safeguard me from being accused of â€œan act that violated someoneâ€™s dignity or created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environmentâ€ by exercising correct ecclesiastical discipline in refusing communion in an Anglican church to someone who I believed to be an unrepentant sinner (in this regard someone involved in sex outside of marriage). Would the Act protect me from being prosecuted for such an allegation when conducting a communion service in a non-Anglican environment (for example a public open gathering in a non-consecrated building)?
- In the same circumstances as question (i), would the Act safeguard me from such an accusation if I was an unordained, unlicensed lay-person performing the same act?
- Section 16 of the Act safeguards me as a minister from being accused of violating someoneâ€™s dignity if I preach from the Bible against homosexual practice (as a former homosexual I am receiving an increasing number of speaking requests in this regard) in an Anglican Church. What if I am at a public, non-church meeting?
- In the same circumstances as question (iii), what if I was a non-ordained, non-licensed lay-person? Would the Act safeguard me?
- Were I to publish a book on the subject of homosexuality, critical of the notion of gay identity, and then to conduct a public reading in a non-church environment, would the Act protect me from prosecution? What about an interview on the radio?
- In the same circumstances of question (v), what if I was a non-ordained, non-licensed lay-person? Would the Act safeguard me?
I’m yet to be convinced that the answer in these six cases is an unequivocal “You are safe”, especially in the light of the fact that the man appointed to make the decision whether I should be prosecuted or not runs the largest gay-advocacy group in the UK. Yeah, that seems to be fair. It’s like making Tony Blair the man who decides whether the government should be prosecuted over the Loans for Peerages scandal.
Anyway, back to the point. Any lawyers reading who want to comment on the questions? In fact, to soothe my ego, are there any lawyers reading in the first place? Do let me know…