in the Guardian: Paying to be discriminated against
Religious people already have a huge concession in that civil partnerships can’t be performed in churches. It is unjust and unfair then that religious people now seek to colonise civil and secular spaces like council offices or magistrates courts demanding religious exemptions. The point of state-run facilities are that any citizen can make use of them and expect equal treatment and service. These are all taxpayer funded services – so, in effect, non-believers and gay people are paying to be discriminated against. If religious officiants who are willing to perform ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples are not allowed by law to opt in, in why should secular registrars be allowed to opt out?
People are rightly protected from being discriminated against because of their religion, but the spirit of this law should not be perverted to allow religious people license to discriminate against others on the basis of their religious belief. Equality legislation is already undermined by numerous exemptions, practically all of them concessions to the religious.
We should be aware that the people behind this push to religionise our society are not the regular church-goers who generally wouldn’t dream of behaving in this bigoted way. It is a small group of determined zealots who will not stop until we’re all subject to their version of “religious freedom” (which seems to mean freedom for them, and restrictions for others). Often behind these apparently vulnerable individuals there stands a highly organised and well-funded pressure group.
More background at the BBC.
The same-sex marriages in California almost made me cry.
On the Age: California ushers in gay marriage era – the couple in their 80s are amazing.
And the BBC: California ushers in same-sex weddings
Why are the bigots so bothered about gay marriage? Surely they can’t all be closet cases?
BBC: Tutu chides Church for gay stance
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has criticised the Anglican Church and its leadership for its attitudes towards homosexuality.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4, he said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had failed to demonstrate that God is “welcoming”.
He also repeated accusations that the Church was “obsessed” with the issue of gay priests.
He said it should rather be focusing on global problems such as Aids.
BBC: “A church whose members cheered a soldier’s death as “punishment” for US tolerance of homosexuality has been told to pay $10.9m (£5.2m) in damages.”
BBC: Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed that one of her characters, Hogwarts school headmaster Albus Dumbledore, is gay.
She said she regarded her novels as a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and urged her fans to “question authority”.
BBC: Plans to outlaw inciting gay hate
Plans to make inciting hatred against gay people a crime have been announced by Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
The law would cover gay, lesbian and bisexual people and may be extended to cover disabled and transgender people.
Mr Straw said it was time for the law to recognise society was “appalled by hatred and invective” directed at people because of their sexuality.
Globalising the fight for sexuality rights
Unfortunately in many parts of the world the decriminalisation domino hasn’t fallen. In fact, in more than 70 countries homosexuality remains illegal. This consigns the vast majority of the world’s gay men and lesbians to a life of criminality over which the have no choice. In twelve of these countries homosexuality is punishable by death.
The temptation to believe that such laws are relics of a bygone past and aren’t enforced was sadly dispelled with the public hanging in 2005 of two Iranian teenagers sentenced under Sharia law for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality.
Elsewhere the use of anti-gay laws to intimidate and silence lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is alive and well.
“Civil unions between male couples existed around 600 years ago in medieval Europe, a historian now says.
Historical evidence, including legal documents and gravesites, can be interpreted as supporting the prevalence of homosexual relationships hundreds of years ago, said Allan Tulchin of Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.
If accurate, the results indicate socially sanctioned same-sex unions are nothing new, nor were they taboo in the past.”