Thursday, February 04, 2010

Victory for Religious Groups as Labour Gives Up on Equality Bill Clause Condemned by Pope

From The Telegraph:
Ministers had tried to include a new definition of a priest in the flagship anti-discrimination law, but church leaders complained that it was far too narrow.

They said it would mean religious organisations could no longer opt out of equality rules, and so would face prosecution unless they went against their beliefs by employing homosexuals. Roman Catholics feared they would be forced to admit women to the priesthood for the first time.

In an unprecedented intervention in British politics, on Monday the Pope declared that Britain’s equality laws are imposing “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.

The controversial clause was struck out of the legislation during committee stage in the House of Lords last week, but clergy feared Labour would try to put it back in before the law entered the statute book.

However the Equality Bill is seen by Gordon Brown's allies as Harriet Harman's bill and party startegists are anxious that contentious parts of the bill do not become a part of the election attack against Labour.

Mr Brown visted the Pope while he was Chancellor and has enjoyed good relations with the Vatican on issues such as world poverty. Number 10 also points out that there are many Catholic Labour MPs who wil be upset that the new Bill has provoked such strong recation from Rome.

Downing Street is anxious that relations remain cordial and has now indicated that they will drop the contentious parts of the Bill...

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Pope Critical of Labour’s "Unjust" Equality Laws Ahead of UK Visit

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