By Hilary White

LONDON, May 25, 2009 ( – As the Labour government’s Equality act works its way through Parliament, critics are becoming increasingly vocal about the bill’s potential to stifle religious expression. A coalition of clergy, including sitting members of the House of Lords, some Labour MPs and leading opposition Conservative MPs have said that the bill is a direct threat to Britain’s ancient heritage of civil liberties and freedoms.

The government’s proposed Equality bill is not about protecting the rights of minorities, but about “ideological coercion,” said Charles Moore, a columnist with the Daily Telegraph. Moore compared the bill to the legislative structure which underpinned the South African apartheid regime.

The Equality act proposes to replace and amalgamate current law, to create a single Equalities Commission to cover all aspects of discrimination law and to outlaw all discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation in goods and services in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It also contains a provision relating to the creation of a public duty to promote equality on the ground of “gender.”

Moore warned that the agenda behind the Bill is “a gigantic, bureaucratic organisation of ideological coercion, promoting grievance, imposing cost and attacking businesses, charities, schools.”

Just as the architects of apartheid created “a vast edifice of legislation” to segregate South African society, “the ideologues of ‘Equality’ have sought to spin a single web to bind the entire structure of [British] society.”

The way the bill is structured, he said, requires adherence to an entire unified ideology. “Each ‘equality’ relates to every other,” he wrote earlier this month. “If you are in favour of, say, maternity leave, you must also support the legal recognition of trans-sexuals. You want better wheelchair access? Then you must be in favour of gay marriage.”

Tory MP Philip Davies slammed the bill, saying it had “nothing to do with equality,” and called it “incredibly misleadingly titled.”

“One of its central planks is not to enshrine equality in law but to reintroduce discrimination into the workplace.”

Andrea Williams, director of Christian Concern For Our Nation, which is helping co-ordinate opposition to the bill said, “No reasonable person supports the stirring up of hatred of any kind.”

“However, in 21st-century Britain we must find a way of being able to live peaceably alongside one another allowing for free and robust debate around every aspect of life, including reasonable criticism and discussion of all forms of sexual behaviour.”

Under the rubric of “anti-discrimination,” the Labour government continues its attempts to outlaw all criticism of the homosexual lifestyle in other bills. Last year, the proposed Criminal Justice and Immigration Act was introduced, which would have created the criminal offence of “incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

The measure was defeated by a group of peers, led by the Tory Lord Waddington, who forced the government to accept an amendment that allowed “the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices.” But a new clause being considered for the Coroners and Justice Bill would overturn this exemption.

Some Anglican bishops are opposing what they identify as an attempt to restrict freedom of expression for those who disagree with the homosexualist political doctrines. The Anglican bishop of Southwell and Nottingham told parliament last week “Our concern is with the potential application of the law to restrict legitimate discussion and expression of opinion about sexual ethics and sexual behaviour.”

Andrea Williams said that such legislation as the Equality Act and its relatives and antecedents are purely the work of the homosexualist political lobby who do not want their practices questioned.

Williams continued, “We are seeing case after case of Christians being discriminated against because of their biblical views on sexual conduct. It is time to take action before our laws silence any objection to homosexual practice.”

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