Saturday 12 March 2011

Being religious does not confer special rights

From last Thursday's Today Programme on BBC Radio Four:
A Christian couple who were refused permission to be foster parents on the grounds that they are homophobic, have been advised that appealing against the decision would be "futile". Barrister Paul Diamond and former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer debate if anti-discrimination laws should take precedence over the rights of the couple to express their religious views.
Ten-minute streaming audio clip available here:

Once again we have someone (Paul Diamond in this case) bleating that religious people should be allowed to discriminate unfairly against certain sections of society, and that being religious gives them special rights that the non-religious don't have. Lord Falconer is having none of it, pointing out that the judgement in the Eunice and Owen Johns case was very fair and applied not to the fact that the Johns' were religious, but that their views regarding homosexuality might prevent them from treating their foster children in a non-discriminatory manner.

Sure, the Johns' are decent people, but if their views prevent them from caring for foster children in a manner required by law, then they should not be allowed, by law, to be foster parents. The remedy, as in all these cases, is in their hands. In a previous Today Programme interview Eunice Johns claimed that all they are asking for is "a level playing-field in society". Thanks to recent laws against discrimination, that's exactly what they've got.