Anger over Government’s gay employment legislation

Christians have hit out at new Government legislation that will force churches to employ homosexuals in certain positions.

The Equality Bill aims to eradicate more forms of discrimination than covered by existing law and will mean that churches are no longer able to discriminate on the grounds of gender reassignment or sexual practice when employing staff.

While the legislation will not apply to posts involving biblical teaching or the leading of worship, other posts within churches or Christian groups such as youth workers or accountants will be affected.

A spokesman for the Church of England said it had not received any prior consultation or warning about the proposed change to the law and that it planned to raise the issue with the Government.

“It represents a substantial narrowing of the exception relating to employment for the purposes of an organised religion,” he said.

“It would have the effect that many of those employed in senior posts that involved representing the Church either locally or nationally (eg the posts of Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, or diocesan secretary) would not, for the purposes of this exception, be employed ‘for the purposes of an organised religion’.”

The spokesman added: “We shall be raising the issue with the Government and are likely to support the tabling of amendments that would preserve the status quo.”

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said the Government’s own explanation of the Bill “clearly says churches must accept homosexuals as church youth workers”.

“The Bill says nothing about the difference between an active homosexual and someone who has left the lifestyle but still experiences some same-sex attraction. This distinction is crucial for Christians,” he said.

Andrea Williams, Director of Christian Concern for our Nation commented, “This is a new attempt to impose the state’s secularist agenda on the church and gag Christians from teaching and living out what the Bible says about sexual ethics.

“The Government thrust is that Christians should largely be free to follow Christ in private, as long as it doesn’t affect their working life.”