The government agreed to outlaw discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the provision of goods and services last November. This covers a range of areas, from healthcare and schools through to insurance and hotels, across the UK. Fair enough.
However some religious groups are now demanding broad exemptions in the regulations, threatening to expose lesbian and gay people to continuing discrimination. Those well-known live-and-let-live at The Christian Institute are currently running a letter-writing campaign. Featuring a now familiar litany of exaggerations and misrepresentations, they are calling for services and businesses run by Christians to be legally entitled to turn away gay customers, including care homes and schools. "We'll sell you a Bible but not let you bugger our children". Really? Well, reasoned arguments like that would be far more convincing if your children weren't so pig ugly you bunch of happy-clappy funsters. But I digress.
Sadly the government may be swayed by these bigotted views unless there are enough people speaking against them.
To put forward your own thoughts, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Go on. It'll only take a second.
- The proposed sexual orientation regulations are essential. There is much evidence to show that lesbian, gay and bisexual people across Great Britain encounter discrimination in areas such as hotels, insurance and healthcare every day.
- The regulations must apply to public functions, such as hospitals and schools. There can be absolutely no question of discrimination being allowed by any organisation which receives money from the public purse - the gays pay tax just like straight people. Trust me. I know!
- The government must ensure that the regulations are robust, with no exemptions for faith schools, or for commercial or community services which are provided by religious groups. Exempting faith schools could mean a young person could be excluded from a school for being gay, or for having gay parents.
The closing date for responses is 5th June 2006 so why not jot down a few lines saying how "the gays should be treated fairly"? An electronic version of the consultation is available at http://www.dti.gov.uk/consultations/Open/page27077.html