« Previous | Main | Next »

New Gay rights law gets the go-ahead

Post categories:

William Crawley | 14:32 UK time, Thursday, 21 December 2006

belfasthighcourt.jpgNews just in. Mr Justice Deeny has ruled that Northern Ireland's new gay rights legislation should be introduced, as planned, on New Year's Day. The Christian Institute and a number of other Christian groups asked the High Court to make an order postponing the introduction of the Regulations pending a judicial review.

Their barrister, David Scoffield, said that in England and Wales the government had delayed the implementation of equivalent legislation and added: "In view of that, it is very difficult for the governmenbt to argue there is a pressing need for this legislation in this jurisdiction at this time." Today, Mr Justice Deeny refused to postpone the introduction of the regulations, and fixed March 1 and 2 as dates for a full hearing.


  • 1.
  • At 03:21 PM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • louis menaud wrote:

A victory for common sense over prejudice. A victory for modernity over medievalism.

  • 2.
  • At 07:48 PM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • rubberduckie wrote:

I wonder if Peter Hain's desire to be Deputy PM has anything to do with rushing these regs through in NI. A cynic might think that he wanted to illustrate his 'progressive' credentials ahead of any election campaign. The very thought...

So you think a 'progressive' candidate has more chance of success? A real cynic could say not to push it would be more advantageous! - but it's all got to do with human rights and equality.
We saw the same opposition in the days of sunday swings, sunday drinks sunday betting and civil partnerships.

  • 4.
  • At 10:41 PM on 22 Dec 2006,
  • Leonora Green wrote:

Let's just be glad, on behalf of all minority groups in NI, that the judge had the very good sense to support the introduction of equality legislation.

One day, Christians in NI will look back with shame and embarrassment on their treatment of gay people. Just as people in the southern US look back on an era of racism with embarrassment.

  • 5.
  • At 01:01 AM on 23 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

its not very equal if these equality laws only apply to one minority is it?

what about race, gender and religious minorities for example? Why should they not have these rights too?

Anyone remember that old chestnut the human rights act? I thought it gave freedom of religion....What will happen if a muslim printer is asked to print flyers for a gay pride campaign?

Has this all been thought through I wonder?

In recent case in Europe a couple of spinsters who had lived together their whole lives have been refused inheritance rights that a civil partnerhsip would give.

It is my understanding that in France the equivalent cp law also embraces hetersexual couples and siblings to give them such rights.

I understand this was proposed for the UK but the Government appeared to choose an ideological point over equality (ie for mixed sex couples and siblings as well as same sex couples).

What William appears to have missed out is that there is still a judicial review to go ahead into the propriety of the consultation for the SOR in NI, in March. This decision means the laws will not be frozen in the meantime.


  • 6.
  • At 09:58 AM on 23 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:


stop being silly.

  • 7.
  • At 10:20 AM on 23 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


"stop being silly"

That is so impressive GW. Have you ever thought of applying to mensa?

Guys, we are in the prescence of a giant here, all hail GW ;-)


PS do you know the meaning of ad hominem?

  • 8.
  • At 01:47 PM on 23 Dec 2006,
  • Craig Nelson wrote:

Some of the comments here are very ill informed, especially PB's post.

First, race, disability and sex have been covered for many years.

Religion and sexual orientation come in in April.

Second the Human Rights Act does guarantee freedom of religion. Religious organisations do have an exemption under the regulations. In any case the HRA automatically takes presedence over the regulations as they are secondary as opposed to primary legislation.

Not quite sure what a 'Muslim printer' is or would be. But the government have made clear that you aren't required to offer services that you don't already offer, so either they will be able to continue as before or alter the criteria of what you offer (and in any case I don't know of any religion that obliges you to 'be a printer').

Thirdly, as regards Civil Partnerships, the Govt restricted this to those who don't have the option of civil or religious marriage - hopefully one day we will follow South Africa in allowing opposite and same sex couples to choose whether to call their union a marriage or a Civil Partnership.

A lot of the reporting (especially from so-called Christian groups) has been wildly inaccurate and misleading. The NI regs weren't rushed through; the consultation period took as much time as they announced; the reponses have been published and they have been advised - amongst other others - by the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland, which covers all equality strands and the govt said in Parliament in advance they would lay the regs in November for Norhtern Ireland.

Given this I wouldn't hold out much hope of the regs being stopped in March by the High Court as I don't think there's a case. Obviously the gocernment has its own lawyers to advise them so it's really unlikely (admittedly not impossible) for the Courts to strike down legislation.

  • 9.
  • At 11:03 PM on 23 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


I will always gladly take correction where I am wrong but I am not so sure all you say is accurate.

1) Can you name the different legislation that provides EXACTLY THE SAME RIGHTS for provision of goods and services on grounds of race, religion, disability as the SOR does?
You may well be right, it may exist, I will be glad to learn, name em..

2) Playing a bit dumb on the muslim printer thing arent you? I would say it would be a muslim chap who owns a printing business. And you have failed to demonstrate to me how if he has been printing event flyers he would not be required to continue to do so for a gay pride rally.

3) And on CPs you are actually agreeing with me that they deliberately discriminate against mixed sex couples and siblings; the only possible reason I can see for this is ideological, what problem would it have caused to open it up? I understand this is how it works in France.

4) You say it is "Wildy innaccrate" to say that the NI SOR regs were rushed through? Well NI is much more conservative than GB and the largest political party and 4 main churches in NI opposed the SOR and yet they are still coming into force in days. I believe the NI consultation was 4 weeks shorter than in GB and in GB the regs have now been put on ice until further debate takes place? What part of rushed through dont you understand?

I stand to be corrected, but the courts have already acknowledged that there is a case to answer as to whether the consultation was rushed, and that is exactly the issue the judicial review will examine in March. So what special expertise have you to preempt this judicial review Craig?


  • 10.
  • At 12:03 AM on 24 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

I did write another piece but it seems to have got lost...

basically I too noticed and welcomed the God's grace thing Will wrote.

I would still say his agenda is still pretty rooted in humanism, but that a fair bit of it would overlap with a biblical agenda.

Happy Christmas to all, you included Will,


  • 11.
  • At 08:32 AM on 24 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

ref the Human Rights Act and freedom of religion, the case of the English couple that sued the police and council for infringing theirs makes interesting reading in light of the impending Sexual Orientation Regulations.

I wonder will we see the Human Rights Act successfully used to stop litigation against the Sexual Orientation Regulations on grounds of alleged homophobic discrimination or harrassment?


  • 12.
  • At 07:47 PM on 29 Dec 2006,
  • Craig Nelson wrote:

This is in reply to #9, but not wishing to expend the time required to answer point by point.

The main thing I want to say is that is well known that Race is covered by the race relations act, sex by the sex discrimination act, disability by the disability discrimination act.

Protections in goods and services will be added for religious belief under the Equality Act in April.

The race, sex and disability legislation dates from the 1960's, 1970's and 1990's (in the case of the DDA).

Similar legislation exists in Northern Ireland. The Office of the First Minsiter and Deputy First Minister has all the details for NI https://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/

The Women and Equality Unit has all the info for the rest of the UK.

The second thing is on the idea the regs are being rushed through which I find quite amazing.

This provision under the Equality Act itself was being debated all through *last* summer, the Act itself was given Royal Assent in February.

The NI consultation proceded broadly along the same lines as the GB consultation, so in some form or other there has been 5 months of consultation as well as plenty of background.

The oringial intention of the Government was to introduce the regulations in NI in November (as announced in the consultation doc) so far from being 'rushed' they have in fact been delayed by a month or so.

Of course the Court can make whatever finding it sees fit and I discalim any expertise other than some one who is at least minimally informed about the UK's equality legislation.

I would have thought the main aspect of the Court's ruling will be on interpretation in terms of issues arising ou of the Human Rights Act, which can only be useful.

The thing abou the Muslim printer thing has already been answered by the Government (it was a Christian printer then....). The upshot is no-one will be required to print gay pride rally leaflests - to be honest the very scenario is somewhat absurd.

For the Gov't's answer see Hansard:

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 would require a printing shop run by a Christian to print fliers promoting gay sex.[HL448]

Lord Rooker: No. It would be entirely within the spirit of the regulations for a printing shop run by a Christian to refuse to print fliers promoting gay sex, so long as that printer also refused to print fliers promoting heterosexual sex outside the realm of marriage.

  • 13.
  • At 01:32 AM on 30 Dec 2006,
  • Craig Nelson wrote:

Wanted just to say a few words about Christian/Muslim 'printers'.

There's so many things to point out here as to why this is a complete red herring.

If you have a "gay rally" it's actually quite a lot of organising and the last thing you are going to do is deliberately find the only person in the kingdom who isn't keen on doing the work. Any one who's worked with printers knows you need a level of trust so that the product arrives at the right quality and on time.

It's quite insulting to assume that Christians and Muslims will automatically refuse to print something gay. If Christians are against homophobic bullying for instance they might support printing a leaflet on that subject, quite apart from all of the Christians and Muslims who are gay themselves or who support equality and therefore might be quite keen for the business.

The point in the post is about promoting gay sex. Not sure how many posters I have seen promoting gay sex.

I imagine there are many things that a Christian or Muslim printer wouldn't print
which are quite apart from sexual orientation and therefore to decline to produce such a thing would be lawful, as the Government have stated.

A final point is that the fantasy that some Christians have that gay people are going to be going around deliberately taking futile cases to court (at risk of an award of costs against themselves in any case)
just to persecute Christians is a little revealing as to what *they* have been doing to gay people down the ages. The Christian gospel ought to be about reconciliation and forgiving of past wrongs as well as saying sorry to communities that you have hurt.

The 'vengeful fantasy' speaks more of where Christianity is at at the moment than of anything else and ought to give us pause for thought in itself.

  • 14.
  • At 01:39 PM on 30 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Welcome back Craig

The Christian gospel ought to be about....????

A bit of post-modern wishful thinking there Craig, but it is a very common mistake nowadays as so few people actually study the bible.

The Christian gospel is that Christ died and rose again to give us all a fresh start and forgiveness for our sins, if we trust in him. That is why it is Good News, the meaning of the greek term, gospel. You can check it up yourself in ref books.

That means me and you both in no particular order and without getting into whose sins may or may not be more grave in God's eyes (his business I would say).

I would say you sound like a reasonable person and I take your word for it you would not persecute someone of faith using this law,

but that does not negate the fact that the law is coming in and will give an opportunity for people with less scruples than you to do the opposite of what you recommend.

Can Christians sue gays who blashpeme their God and defame Christ? this has been done in the Gay press before to a shocking extent...Is that equality?

Can Christians sue gay people who refuse them goods and services because of their religious beliefs?
Is that equality?

I know Christian teachers are becoming concerned about whether they will be forced to teach about CPs in the same breath as marriage in whatever subject it may come up in, now or in future curriculums.

The Govt has made such a point or promoting a gay agenda, I would not at all be surprised if such a curriculum was deliberately created to put teachers in this position.

That is speculation of course, but the Govt has the track record so far and only time will tell.

Happy new year Craig and best wishes for 2007


  • 15.
  • At 01:12 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Dylan Dog wrote:

I think all these fundamentalists ho get themselves worked up in a hot frenzy over gay sex need to chill out a bit...it is rumoured that a good "sports massage" does wonders to remove this stress...

  • 16.
  • At 03:14 PM on 09 Jan 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

well... as an ex Gay right wing christian of 45 years I believe I have the authority to speak here. IF these people know their bible they will know that Jesus refered to those who do not know women in a gospel and said "They were born so"..and accepted this fact.
Christian bigotry is founded upon mistranslations of A FEW (4)GOSPELS WHEN THERE ARE OVER FOUR HUNDRED THAT HENRY THE EIGTH AND BEFORE HIM THE CATHOLIC CHURCH REFUSED TO PUT IN THE CANON. There are parts of scripture that were even WRITTEN by Henry the 8th!!
Without exception I can challenge ALL the scripture that Christians say prove that being gay is sinful...it is a matter of interpretation and in fact homosexuality (without mistranslation) is NOT covered in the bible...and it is assumed that (for instance) Lots visitors were male etc... its all confusion in their eagerness to do God a favour without knowing the trutgh of the word. I am an ex christian because I have dumped the biggotry I used to cling to in order to live my life without anyone else trying to cast demons out of me.... we will win one day, and there will be many red and sad christian faces when they get educated in the word.

  • 17.
  • At 05:05 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • John the atheist wrote:

KUDOS to Colin (comment 16), The only thing you have to realise is that not only were the early christians homosexuals and hated women, but jesus never existed!

The law is in place to protect the rights and freedom of someone of a different sexual orientation.
The idea that it is a 'sin' is as absurd as the flying spagetti monster!

Did these alleged writers of the 'old testament' whom the three 'patriachal god of abraham' believing religions know what caused homosexuality? earthquakes?

Is the reason why god declared shellfish sinful because the high priest got diarrhoea? Someone got a rash from wearing wool and cooton and suddenly its a sin to have clothes made from two materials?

Remember when they were trying to pass a blasphemy law? How the religions who like to speak out about their god complained about their rights to preach to everyone knocking on our doors early in the morning?

Think about it, the only way to solve this is to simply crush the superstition! or Jesus or whatever second coming from whichever religion better get their holy ass on earth and prove themself, preferably when they pass this law THIS YEAR (hopefully), cause whichever god didn't have the balls to make it right in the beginning in the first place!

  • 18.
  • At 05:35 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:


  • 19.
  • At 07:58 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • CAITLYN wrote:

Cut the mustard

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.