This Government has never learnt that you can't legislate for equality and freedom. You can pass laws that protect people from specific harm. You can make it illegal to do harm to others or to their property. But fuzzy, feel-good laws, under which we're generally enjoined to be nice to one another, are too easy to draft and dangerous to implement.
The latest such Bill has been drafted by the hapless Minister for Women and Equality, Harriet Harman. The Equality Bill allegedly aims to consolidate earlier anti-discrimination legislation into a single, simple, happy and enlightened Act of Parliament, one consequence of which will be to require Christian churches not to discriminate against homosexuals and transsexuals or, in the case of Roman Catholics, against women or married men as candidates for priesthood.Too true. The other problem is that it's only Christian and Jewish beliefs that are apt to be labelled "wickedly discriminatory." The state would never so label Islamic beliefs, even ones that are flagrantly homophobic and misogynistic.
We must reform examinations to repair our schoolsThere's a delicious irony in equality being thrust upon the household of faith. Because equality before God, all humanity being created equally in the image of that God, a God, as we say, who "has no grandchildren", is a central tenet of the Christian faith. For orthodox Christians, equality really is not the issue. For them, gay people are equally loved of God; it's their homosexuality that is sinful in that it is contrary to God's will. For Catholics, women are every bit the equals of men, indeed they often seem to be venerated above men; it's their supposed exercise of fatherhood that is an abomination.
A case can be made that homophobes and misogynists hide behind religious doctrine. And there are bound to be some instances of that. You could also argue that no one has a human right, based on their claimed faith or conscience, to be discriminatory. But Harman's freedom, precisely because it is vaguely framed on an assumption that any religious rubric is likely to be wickedly discriminatory, is another woman's oppression...
Nothing terribly "equitable" about that.