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.

The Church of England - - NEWS -

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

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