Happy Gay New Year! (...in Ulster)
The NI regulations outlaw discrimination and ‘harassment’ on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services and education. Gay rights groups view the laws as the precedent for UK-wide regulations. While Cranmer cares little for what they do in the privacy of their own homes, he cares a great deal indeed for what is forced down our throats, and is positively incandescent when our children – the most vulnerable minds in society - are obliged by law to ‘respect’ a person’s sexual orientation when it may be alien to their understanding of both biology and religion.
Doubtless such an assertion makes Cranmer ‘homophobic’, yet this would be just one more example of the abuse of a word and the misrepresentation of a valid concern. It is one thing to love one’s neighbour from the heart, for that is agape; it is quite another to be forced by statute law to respect how some of them make love, for that is eros.
Of particular concern is the loosely-worded harassment law (Regulation 3:3), which states:
(3) A person (‘A’) subjects another person (‘B’) to harassment in any circumstances relevant for the purposes of any provision referred to in these Regulations where, on the grounds of sexual orientation, A engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of
(a) violating B’s dignity; or
(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.
From this, it may be adduced that ‘harassment’ may constitute an ‘offensive environment’. This could mean that a church turns down a practising homosexual as a member, or refuses them communion, and when it explains why may find itself sued for harassment. There is some protection for religious organisations, but they may still be vulnerable over the manner in which they deal with the situation. It is more to do with how the victim feels, rather than how the organisation acted.
A teacher who teaches that sex is only for marriage may be sued by an aggrieved pupil. The school curriculum and ‘Christian’ assemblies are not exempt.
A homosexual student could argue that a university has created an ‘offensive environment’ by permitting a ‘homophobic’ Christian Union to promote itself on campus.
A Christian old people’s home may be sued for refusing a double room to a homosexual couple in a civil partnership.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, initial fines could be between £500 and £5000, with subsequent breaches attracting damages of up to £25,000. These laws pose an alarming threat to the religious liberty of Christians in Ulster, which is the one corner of the United Kingdom where the complexities of religio-political tensions find expression in everyday life. They could force schools to actively promote homosexuality, and could form the legal apparatus to persecute Christians.
Christians oppose the harassment of anyone, and there are already adequate laws on the statute books to deal with the offenders. These new regulations will inhibit freedom of conscience, limit freedom of speech, and imperil the freedom of religion.
And as if all this were not bad enough, under Regulation 52, the burden of proof in every case is reversed, such that the accused is obliged to prove his or her innocence.
Cranmer is dismayed, and seeks the termination of this corrupt and corrupting Government, and beseeches the Lord that 2007 might be the year in which we may be delivered from its evils, and granted a government of righteousness and justice.
His Grace wishes all of his regular communicants, infrequent contributors, and silent readers, a most blessed new year.