Thursday, 29 April 2010

Christian relationship councillor denied appeal

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Gary McFarlane, the Bristol relationship counsellor who lost his job for refusing to provide counselling to gay couples, has today been refused leave to appeal against an earlier judgement which ruled that his sacking did not represent unlawful religious discrimination. It was McFarlane's case that prompted Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, to call for such cases to be heard only by judges with "proven sensitivity and understanding of religious issues".

Today's Court of Appeal ruling, by Lord Justice Laws, represents a powerful rejection of such special religious privileges, and a staunch defence of equality before the law. Here's a key extract:
"The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary. We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens; and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic. The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law; but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.

So it is that the law must firmly safeguard the right to hold and express religious belief; equally firmly, it must eschew any protection of such a belief's content in the name only of its religious credentials. Both principles are necessary conditions of a free and rational regime. As I have shown Lord Carey's statement also contains a plea for a special court. I am sorry that he finds it possible to suggest a procedure that would, in my judgment, be deeply inimical to the public interest."
You can read the full judgement online. Welcoming the ruling, Naomi Phillips of the British Humanist Association said:
"Lord Justice Laws’ decision shows Lord Carey’s statement for what it is – a desperate cry from those unrepresentative few who are trying to retain the kind of privileges for religion that have no place in our modern, liberal and democratic society. A clear message has been sent out, that there can be no 'opt out' from the law for those individuals, such as this counsellor, who do not wish to treat people equally on the basis of their religious beliefs."

6 comments:

Joe Hayhurst said...

Cue a slew of outraged headlines in the Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph about PC gone mad or other such nonsense.

Some people will have to be dragged into the modern world kicking and screaming.

lucy said...

Yep, the Daily Mail has an article, although it's not quite as hysterical as I would have hoped. They do manage to blame it on "12 years of Labour" though...

Mike Hypercube said...

Best summary I've seen so far of the either/or choice between secularism or selective theocracy. i've posted it to my Facebook page with a particular note to Zimbabweans to consider in constitution forming (it's a very Christian country, anti-Gay and with an urgent need for a new constitution, so one can but try).

DM said...

see you know NOTHING ABUT THE *REAL WORLD*



they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!

________________

http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/in-name-of-science-i-offer-my-boobs.html

ETA: follow-up

http://www.blaghag.com/2010/04/quick-clarification-about-boobquake.html

see how we take a term and convert in into its AUTHENTIC POLITICAL DIMENSION - THAT
OF LIBERATION - not just merely harmless expression...

they thought BOOBIES had no effect... WRONG!
____________

FOR THE *HEADLESS IDIOT* called m.shermer

http://www.skeptic.com/Merchant2/graphics/audio_video/av558_lg.jpg

this is your *FINAL WARNING*

____________________________________
the really SHARP END OF OCCAM’S RAZOR…

they mix SKEPTICISM with ATHEISM…

KABOOM…

Now I want you to listen to this little f*cker...

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_randi.html

Randi:

When I see your UGLY FACE I understand why you are an atheist

_________________________________

Visit for the BOOBQUAKE

http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15921&p=343431#p343431

DM said...

see, I just want to make it clear to the rest of you:


jen is unable to see that there is a CONFLICT BETWEEN EROS & SCIENCE....

Eiskrystal said...

It's nice to see a judge pointing out that democracy and christianity are incompatible.