Christian Concern says Equalities candidate is an ‘absurdity’
THE APPOINTMENT OF former Stonewall chair David Isaac as the next chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is ‘absurd’, a Christian charity has said.
Chief Executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, has called the proposed appointment an ‘absurdity’ and asked equalities minister Nicky Morgan MP to reconsider her choice.
In the letter, Ms Williams said that the role of the chair of the Commission would be compromised due to his record as an advocate for Stonewall, the campaigns group for the equality of LGBT people.
“It would be his duty to act impartially to promote and protect human rights, eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity across nine grounds, including religion and belief.
“However, in your letter … you highlighted a key reason for his selection – namely, his having served as chair of Stonewall for 10 years,” writes Ms Williams.
In her letter she quotes Ms Morgan, who said that under the chairmanship of Stonewall, Isaac has successfully lobbied to secure major legislative change, including the abolition of Section 28, the introduction of civil partnerships and gay marriage.
Ms Morgan writes that Isaacs was personally involved in the development of Stonewall’s strategy, lobbying parliamentarians and other opinion formers.
Morgan voted against gay marriage in 2013, saying at the time that the issue was tied in with her own Christian faith.
Ms Williams says that a previous leader of a pressure group would lead to a ‘lack of confidence’ from Government.
She claims that the Commission does not have ‘a track record of objectivity and evenhandedness’, saying that the statutory body has brought a number of cases against Christians.
“The Equality Act 2010 outlines the rights of protected groups but does not address the question of how competing interests are to be ‘balanced’ when conflicts arise. In this way, it has created a hierarchy of rights.
“Poor drafting has resulted in the rights of those who identify as homosexual being consistently privileged over the rights of Christians, particularly with regards to historic views on marriage, family and sexual ethics,” she writes.
Ms Williams accused the Commission of having failed to adequately protect the freedoms of Christians and others who hold similar views ‘to express in the public square such historic, and until very recently, considered mainstream views.”
Ms Williams writes that the challenge of the Commission is in ‘striking a balance’, rather than ‘to proselytise one particular view’.
“How will Mr Isaac’s appointment further this balance? How will it help the Commission to gain a reputation as an independent and objective body?” she queries.
LGBTI Mission member, Savitri Hensman commented: “The fact that someone has campaigned successfully to increase legal protection against discrimination - whether on grounds of ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other kind - would seem to make them highly suitable.
“It is wrong to say that the law privileges protecting LGBT people over people of faith. If, say, a gay couple running a B&B did not want to let a Christian stay there because they felt that the church was homophobic, they would quickly find themselves in court.”
Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan