Sunday, April 01, 2007

Church Homophobia again....

... in what is becoming a recurring theme yet another example of the Church's intolerance on this blog; and I was raised as such a nice christian boy.

Today's Observer highlights what could become an interesting test case on the tension written into employment laws between he freedom of religious groups to insist that their staff conform to their religious teachings and their staff not to be unreasonably discriminated against on grounds of sex, race, sexual orientation etc. The case centre's around a youth worker, John Reaney, who applied for a job with the Diocese of Hereford. He was the unanimous choice of the interview panel, which included members of the clergy, and his appointment was expected to be rubber stamped by the Bishop. Instead he was called in for another interview that included questions about his sex life, following which he was informed that as a practising homosexual he was unsuitable for the job.

Reaney is not surprisingly suing for unlawful discrimination. The case will rest on how tightly the tribunal interprets the loophole that allows religious organisations to discriminate where the post holder must embody the ethos of the organisation. The courts have already ruled that it shouldn't include teachers in faith schools for instance, so he has a reasonable chance and good luck to him.

The legalities notwithstanding I am yet again annoyed at what is after all the official state church treating parts of its flock as second class citizens. Most irritating is the hypocrisy. There would be no question of the Church dragging a straight applicant into a side room and quizzing them on their sexual history, nor for that matter turning somebody down for a job because they had had premarital sex (equally 'sinful' as a bit of sodomy). What is it about gay sex that gets the Bishops so excited?

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