Homosexual groups and atheists in the United Kingdom are not happy with their own government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHR) decision to defend Christians who have faced discrimination based on their faith.
This defense comes after 5 years of claims filed by Christians stating they were punished in some form by their supervisors for displaying or talking about their faith.
"Wholly disproportionate," said the British Humanist Association upon hearing that the EHR Commission plans to intervene in several human rights cases on behalf of Christians that are moving to the European Court of Human Rights, according to World Net Daily (WND).
"It is one thing to make the case for reasonable accommodation in matters such as religious holidays, and quite another if the accommodation sought to allow the believer to discriminate against others in the provision of a service," said British Humanist chief Andrew Copson.
Ben Summerskill, chief of the homosexual advocacy institute called Stonewall, said in a report that the move by the government panel left him "deeply disturbed."
"The commission should be crystal clear that if it seeks to defend the claimed right of any public servant to turn away any user of a public service, it will face strong opposition," he said.
EHR claims that UK judges have been too narrow minded when ruling in regards to human rights. Four cases are being brought before the European Courts:
(1) British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, who was sent home from work after refusing to remove a cross necklace; (2) counselor Gary McFarlane, who was fired for declining to advise homosexuals on their relationship; (3) Lilian Ladele, who was disciplined for refusing as a registrar to conduct "marriage" ceremonies for homosexuals; (4) and Shirley Chaplain, a nurse who was ordered to a desk job because she was wearing a cross necklace.
Another more startling claim to the EHR was the case of Eunice and Owen Johns, a Christian couple, who wanted to provide foster care for children in need. The government, however, ruled that the couple’s view on homosexuality deemed them ill fit to be foster parents. The Johns’ take a Biblical stance and refuse to promote homosexuality in their household.
In this particular case, the judges ruled that Christians’ rights must be limited. Article 9 of the European Convention states that every citizen is granted the freedom of thought and religion. It also states that citizens are free to practice their beliefs. However, judges ruled that the “manifestation” of Christianity is subject to “qualifications.” They therefore concluded that it cannot be justified that a position “held purely on religious grounds” could legally be defended.
The EHR Commission’s legal director, John Wadham, told WND, "Our intervention in these cases would encourage judges to interpret the law more broadly and more clearly to the benefit of people who are religious and those who are not."
He noted, "The idea of making reasonable adjustments to accommodate a person's needs has served disability discrimination law well for decades. It seems reasonable that a similar concept could be adopted to allow someone to manifest their religious beliefs."
The U.K. now has an entrenched bias against Christians, said Paul Diamond, a barrister who worked on the foster parent case claims. To him, there’s no point in appealing to the High Court ruling because of the bias.
Trevor Phillips, who chairs the EHR Commission, claimed last month that the person most likely to "feel slighted" because of their religion was an evangelical Christian, according to the Guardian.
The scheduled hearings are expected to last for about three months, beginning this fall.