Attempt to Defeat “Homophobic Hate Crimes” Legislation Fails in House of Lords
By Hilary White
LONDON, January 12, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An attempt has failed January 9 in the House of Lords to stop the implementation of the UK’s Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR), that would criminalize “homophobic hate crimes” in the provision of goods and services, including education.
The SOR provisions that did not appear directly in the Equality Act passed in February 2006, came into effect in Northern Ireland on January 1, and are scheduled to do so in the rest of Britain in April.
While police estimated that as many as 3000 people rallied outside Parliament demanding repeal of the law, the Lords voted down the motion to annul the legislation 199 to 68, after two hours of debate. Labour Peers were instructed to vote along party lines, while other parties allowed a free conscience vote.
Christian leaders across denominational lines, as well as Jewish and Muslims groups, have condemned the law as a tool of the homosexual activist movement to force religious people to promote the homosexual ideologies, especially in religious schools.
Thomas Cordrey of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, which organized the rally, told CNN, “Christians have no desire to discriminate unjustly on the grounds of sexual orientation, but they cannot and must not be forced to actively condone and promote sexual practices which the Bible teaches are wrong.”
Religious groups say the law goes even further than enforcing silence on sexual morality but will force religious schools to actively endorse homosexuality as morally equivalent to natural sexual relations and marriage.
The groups have summarized their concerns saying that the new law will mean Christian-operated B&B’s will break the law if they refuse to allow a gay couple to share a bed in their house. Churches may not refuse to hire its hall to homosexual lobby groups. Schools will be required to remove any "bias" in favour of heterosexuality or natural marriage.
The government document, Stand Up for Us: Challenging Homophobia in Schools, currently holding the status of “guidelines,” defines heterosexism as “the presumption that everyone is heterosexual.” These guidelines for schools could take on the force of criminal law after April.
In December, a Home Office report recommended that schools and teachers who failed enthusiastically to endorse homosexual “rights” should be reported to police. The paper on "homophobic hate crime" defined homophobia as "resentment, or fear, of gay and lesbian people" which "can be just a passive dislike of gay people".
Critics of the SOR laws say that a major flaw is the subjective nature of a complaint of “homophobia.” The Christian Lawyers’ group Christian Concern for our Nation, says the inclusion in Northern Ireland of a further prohibition against “harassment” is especially troubling “because the definition of harassment relies largely on the perception of the person who claims they were harassed.”
“All they need do is allege that someone has ‘violated their dignity’ or that someone created a ‘hostile or insulting environment’ for them, and they can take legal action.”
An attempt to stop the implementation of SOR in Northern Ireland failed in December and the law’s opponents are pursuing legal avenues through the courts.
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Northern Ireland Assembly Fails to Stop UK Homosexual Law, Christian Group Files Suit