Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Grayling shows Tories still don’t get it

Yes – of course – there are great sensitivities around how to give everyone religious freedom to believe their doctrines and live their lives according to that doctrine whilst at the same time ensuring equality and freedom from discrimination. That is one of the great challenges that we have to meet – and it reared its head constantly in the Equality Bill.

However, in the end, the provision of goods and services must be provided on an equal basis to all. That is where Chris Grayling has failed to understand the real nature of equality. It will mean, for example, for those Christians who believe it is against their religion or belief to rent facilities to homosexuals – will not be able to exclude gay couples.

That is a clear example of where the line is drawn. There are more complex ones – particularly in employment where I know Churches feel it is entirely their business who they employ and they want to employ Christians. The line here is drawn to allow discrimination in the employment of someone who is involved in the liturgical side of the Church – but not in ordinary jobs within that establishment. For example – obviously the Vicar, priest and youth leaders who have a duty to teach will be discriminated in favour of for those jobs – but a caretaker, accountant, etc will not. That is the line that the law draws.

The problem with what Grayling said – apart from the substance itself – is that it reveals (just as Cameron’s stuttering performance when being interviewed on gay issues demonstrated) that the Tory Party in its heart still doesn’t believe in equality.

You hear it in the Chamber. During the Equality Bill, I was speaking about the need for protection under the law for those with gender identity issues. From the Tory backbenches I could hear the cries of ‘filthy perverts’.

So – yes – there are huge sensitivities and challenges in achieving a way through that values and frees Christians and others to observe their faith – whilst protecting the rights of all to equal treatment under the law.

Sun 4 April 2010
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Comments

  1. Jae says:

    As liberals, this sort of conundrum is something to think about and make rational decisions on, as you clearly have done in this post. Sadly for the Conservatives it seems more of an occasion to allow their half-hidden prejudices a bit of a run around before they put them back in the box for after the election.

    Good post.

  2. Alex Honeker says:

    You are totally right Lynne, they STILL don’t get it. It’s really sad.

  3. Old Holborn says:

    My take on whether or not restaurants MUST offer broccoli to people who like broccoli

    http://www.oldholborn.net/2010/04/broccoli-and-law.html

  4. CIngram says:

    What is so liberal about forcing a business to offer a service it doesn’t want to or cannot effectively provide? A business makes an offer of a certain product or service at a certain price and the potential customer decides whether to accept the offer. It’s really quite simple. And what does any of that have to do with deciding who you may or may not employ? I find your argument meddlesome, blinkered and confused.

  5. George antlefield says:

    Personally I have no objection to gays for the same reason why I am against regulation of illegal drugs. For God’s sake we have to stop saving people as the earth’s population is doubling every forty years. Gays cannot procreate so the more Gays we have in this world the better for all of us.

    I can see within 80 years we will have a society which will kill the deformed, the chronically ill, and the elderly as soon as they retire.

    I am not saying I approve of this, but it is what will have to happen because by then our 6.5 million people will have increased to 25 million.

    George A.

  6. Most of those Tories will not be up for re-election.

    Will the same apply for Jewish and Muslim places of worships and establishments?

    Peoples beliefs are important to them, trivialising them into they are wrong or they still don’t get it. Will not help matter.

    Not all Christians are out right anti-gay, legislating will not change anything other then help make Christians once again believe they’re being attacked on all fronts ( 2 recent high profile cases of people being fired for praying for someone) And it will open up avenues for it to be abused. Was I turnt down for the job because the guy who got it was Christian who attended the church every week so already had a rapport with the people or was it because i’m gay (please note i’m not saying you cant be gay and Christian but the churches this would be at wouldn’t accept it) which can lead to legal suit against the church for remuneration

    On a final thought have you supported peoples actions when they have refused entry to military personnel out of their beliefs on war? Or the general treatment of the armed forces in this country?

  7. Shug Niggurath says:

    Lynne, will you then speak out about this hotel in Blackpool: http://www.guyzhotel.com/
    Exclusively for Gay MEN, not only discrimination on sexuality but gender too. Oh, and you might want to look at the Rooms tab where they seem to be offering a room for people who also would like to smoke.

  8. DavidNcl says:

    “However, in the end, the provision of goods and services must be provided on an equal basis to all.”

    Why?

    Isn’t it inherently anti-freedom to force people to offer services to those they disapprove of?

    Why should one be compelled to be “Tolerant”. Why can’t people just choose who they want to serve or not serve? What terrible thing would happen if I was aloud to offer my services on the market without the state forcing me to supply those services to groups I disprove of such as Nazi’s or Homophobes?

  9. Patrick says:

    Lynne, could you please have a word with the Caravan Club as they have adverts for Adult Only Campsites. Children are not welcome so surely you would consider that disgraceful?

  10. Old Holborn says:

    I am OUTRAGED that the Jewish deli down the road refused to serve me a bacon sandwich.

    what are you going to do about it Lynne?

  11. David says:

    Personally Lynne, I agree with everything you say but some of the comments do display an appalling amount of veiled homophobia and indeed total idiocy in the guise of, what I guess they would say is humorous comment.
    Do they really want to go back to the days of signs outside establishments saying ‘no blacks’ ‘no Irish’ and now ‘no gays’. I can only assume that they do. After all, how else will we know whether or not we would be welcome.
    Having been a victim of being refused service in a café many years ago [in a group of four men, soberly dressed and only slightly camp but not at all raucous or loud] and being told ‘we don’t serve your sort in here’ I cannot begin to tell you how demeaning and humiliating it was. And as it happens, two of the men were straight!

  12. Marchamont says:

    I’ve been refused entry to several pubs for the heinous crime of arriving on a motorbike.

    Will I be protected – or would I only be protected if I were a gay biker?

  13. thespecialone says:

    Your post Lynne shows you not to be Liberal at all doesnt it? What would you say if for instance if a muslim refused entry to a gay couple because it is against their faith? I bet you wouldnt post on it would you?
    The trouble is with politicians is that they are London centric and live in the Westminster bubble. In the real world this will not even register on peoples’ minds when they vote. The economy and jobs is far far more important to ‘normal’ people. Lynne, you and your fellow MPs really need to get out in the real world.
    As has been posted, I would like to know your feelings about the gays only hotel. Or is that ok?

  14. thespecialone says:

    And one more thing, if the Tories are so anti-gay, why are 28 of PPCs selected openly gay?

  15. dan says:

    Ladies get in free to the pub and I have to pay in.
    Its an outrage and discriminatory.
    What are you going to do about that, Lynne?

  16. David says:

    Well Lynne
    This certainly proves that an aweful lot of bigots have suddenly taken to read your blog today! How odd.
    It smells to me as if it have been deliberately orchestrated.

  17. Man in Black says:

    Chris Grayling *actually* said that hotels should have no right to discriminate (because they are nothing more than businesses) but *maybe* there were issues when a Christian was offering B&B in his own home. The idea that you become *purely* a supplier of goods & services when it’s your own home is ludicrous.

    Besides, surely the acid test of ‘equal access’ should be whether a same sex couple can find similar quality accommodation in the locality in question, not that each individual B&B owner must admit people they might not like??

    Chris Grayling “doesn’t get it”? He voted for civil partnerships. He voted for the legislation he was querying in the tape. But unless he is publicly promoting same-sex relationships, people like you will never credit him with ‘getting it’.

    Of course he will never get it – he’s just not gay. Likewise, any white male liberal can vote for all the anti-discrimination legislation in the world. They still wouldn’t “get it” when it came to understanding, say, racial discrimination against black people. Why? Because they’re not black.

    (On the other hand, those Tories who are gay, whether open or not, get it more than you think. And more than you do.)

    The reality is that you lot won’t be happy until every white British male is publicly denouncing himself and grovelling for his past collective sins. Of course, you won’t attack the inherent homophobia of the white working class. Nor will you ever take the Islamists head on. Nor the ‘Africanists’.

    That is why we have to draw a line at some point and just tell you overly righteous types where to get off…

  18. AP says:

    What about all women shortlists? Where is the equal access for a man who would like to represent the constituency he lives in but unfortunately finds ‘his sort’ isn’t wanted in those parts. Discrimination is discrimination is it not.

    Ther is one minority group in this country which recieves no special protection under employment law for example and as a result they are positivly discriminated against, their compensation rights are capped at 75,000 and they are villified if they stand up fo themselves. They are not old, from an ethnic minority, female or gay. Straight white men from all income groups and backgrounds of working age are increasingly disadvantaged and put upon. If you want a level playing field then let’s have a level playing field please.

    On the B&B issue, Whilst there are outlets catering exclusivly for gay people, women only, older people only, no kids, etc etc then you cannot stop people having a straight only establishment. Again you either allow discrimination or you don’t. I don’t buy the ‘acceptable’ discrimination argument.

  19. Harriet Harms-man says:

    “Shug Niggurath says:
    4 April 2010 at 11:32 am

    Lynne, will you then speak out about this hotel in Blackpool: http://www.guyzhotel.com/
    Exclusively for Gay MEN, not only discrimination on sexuality but gender too. ”

    Wow, funny how they don’t get in any trouble with the equality brigade.

    However, those complaining about Lynne’s failure to criticise muslims are well off the mark – she has a decent track record in criticising most religions.

    For Lynne double standards only really apply when gender is involved. She’s quite fair the rest of the time.

  20. ruda malpa says:

    A friend of mine who was recently made redundant applied for a job with another company in the same sector, but was refused becuase he has his kid’s name tattooed on his neck. So, he figured that a company that doesn’t tolerate tattoos won’t be much fun to work for, so he just applied for another job elsewhere. I have been refused entry to a pub because of my tattoos and another friend of mine was refused entry to a club because he had a short hair cut and the bouncers assumed he was a “squaddie”. So, we just went to another pub/club (and probably had more fun!)……. simples!!

  21. Jay says:

    Bigots reading her blog? Because people believe all discrimination is wrong and cultural shift needs to happen over a legislative change. We are merely pointing out she is attacking one case and ignoring all others as this one seems acceptable and she is able to attack all the conservatives for one members private views yet he votes differently supporting favourable legislation for the gay community. Which correct me if im wrong is what an MP should do vote in the views of their constituency and not their own views? Which is sooo often ignored in this day and age.

  22. [...] Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Youth and Equality, Lynne Featherstone posted an article titled “Grayling shows Tories still don’t get it” – Lynne is absolutely right – the Tories are living in the [...]

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