The government has suffered three House of Lords defeats over moves churches said would prevent them denying jobs to gay people and transsexuals.

The current law allows religious organisations to rule out some applicants on conscientious grounds. The government tried to amend the bill so that exemptions to equality provisions applied only to those whose jobs "wholly or mainly" involved taking part in services or rituals, or explaining the doctrines of religion. But the churches argued that many clergy spend only some of their time in these roles and carry out administrative and other duties.

The Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend John Sentamu, told peers: "You may feel that many churches and other religious organisations are wrong on matters of sexual ethics. But, if religious freedom means anything it must mean that those are matters for the churches and other religious organisations to determine for themselves in accordance with their own convictions. Where are the examples of actual abuses that have caused difficulties? Where are the court rulings that have shown that the law is defective? If it ain't broke, why fix it?"

The turnout for the first division of 394 peers was the biggest for any vote since the Lords struck down plans to allow terrorist suspects to be detained for 42 days without charge in October 2008.

Lords leader Baroness Royall said the clarification would ensure that the church could turn down some candidates when explaining or promoting the religion was not "intrinsic to the role".

COMMENT: Sometimes I wonder if God is as helpful as we make him out to be. Quite honestly, it would have been a lot more useful for us, and a marvellous tool for evangelism, if, in stead of a couple of obscure and ambiguous remarks about gay sex he had got his son to state clearly and emphatically that we should pay unto Caesar absolutely nothing, that taxes are an abomination unto the Lord, our God. I mean, if we are going to use a "Get out of jail free" card that allows us to behave badly whilst everyone else is compelled to behave in a Christian manner, it would be more profitable to use it after robbing a bank than for getting off a minor speeding offence.



  1. I confess some considerable ignorance of your legislative system. That said, how binding is this action? I have the idea that Commons can act anyway?


  2. I have the idea that Commons can act anyway?
    They could, Jim. But it’s unlikely that they will regard this as an important enough matter to go the wire on. OcIcbw…

  3. “You may feel that we are wrong in repealing your tax exempt status… But you know, we have our reasons…”

  4. I’m sure of Wilberforce’s opponents said ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ about the slave trade.

    Funny, if THAT hadn’t been opposed, Sentamu would not be in the position he is today.

    Why is one form of bigotry acceptable and another not?