Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Important update: CRITICAL DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO THE SEXUAL ORIENTATION REGULATIONS (SORs)

The following is a news update from Websites: http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk and http://www.lawcf.org

CRITICAL DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO THE SEXUAL ORIENTATION REGULATIONS (SORs)

28th November 2006


Important update

Critical developments in the situation regarding the SORs have taken place over the past few days. Having taken many people by surprise in publishing the Northern Ireland (NI) Regulations early, and before even responding to the consultation process that had taken place, the Government have now accelerated the process still further by rushing to lay the NI SORs before Parliament late last Friday (24th November).

The laying of the Regulations coincided with our discovery that the Government have chosen to use a special Parliamentary procedure to push the Regulations through WITH NO NEED FOR ANY DEBATE OR VOTE IN PARLIAMENT AT ALL. This ‘negative resolution procedure’ means that the mere elapsing of 40 days from the date of the Regulations being laid will see the SORs become law in Northern Ireland. This in turn will set a dangerous precedent for the England, Wales and Scotland SORs which are due to come into force in April 2007.

The only way the NI Regulations can now be amended and improved to deal with the current infringement of freedom of conscience and freedom to practice Christianity that they create, is 1) by the Government agreeing to withdraw and amend them or 2) a member of the House of Commons or House of Lords seeking an annulment of the SORs and sufficient time being granted by the Government for such a debate and vote to take place.

This all emphasises the need to pray and act on the issue NOW. The momentum in the media is growing as awareness increases regarding the impact of these Regulations on Christians and the manner in which they will discriminate against those who believe in the Bible (see the link to the front page of the Daily Mail, below).

Please read the 2 attached letters which have been sent to all MPs and Peers to understand in greater detail the issues involved.

Information on what action can be taken to influence this issue can be found below.

· SORs make front page news in the Daily Mail (28th November) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=419067&in_page_id=1770&ct=5

· Full page advert published in the Times newspaper (28th November) by churches to expose the Government’s behaviour in relation to the SORs.
http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk/sor/docs/LCFAdvert.pdf

· A powerful letter from Jim Shannon (member of the Northern Ireland Assembly) written to the Prime Minister in relation to the SORs.
http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk/sor/docs/LetterJS.doc

· Press release from the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship explaining some of the problematic issues surrounding the Government’s rushing through of the NI SORs.
http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk/sor/docs/PRSOR.doc


Action

As the momentum grows in the media, the role of Christians in seeking amendments to the law to protect freedom of conscience and freedom of religion becomes increasingly important. If Christians mobilise and act together they will form a powerful lobby which the Government cannot ignore. So now is the time when it will be most effective for Christians to speak out in defence of our right to speak openly from the Bible and to live according to the Bible’s teaching about sexual morality, whether in church on a Sunday, or in our jobs during the week. It is a key matter of principle that British law is not used to make it illegal to follow any aspect of the Bible’s teaching.

They key things that all Christians can do are:

Pray and inform others of this situation.
Continue to lobby MPs and Peers. THIS IS VITAL. There are under 40 days remaining in which politicians can seek to have the NI SORs annulled so that an improved law can be put in their place. The very least we want is delay on this matter until the England, Wales and Scotland SORs are finalised, so that such an improved law can be put in place for the whole of the UK.

Of equal importance is asking MPs to petition the Government to withdraw the NI SORs whilst a principled settlement is agreed safeguarding freedom of conscience and religion. EVERY CHRISTIAN LIVING IN BRITIAN HAS AN MP AND SHOULD REQUEST THAT THEIR MP REPRESENT THEIR VIEWS TO THE GOVERNMENT THAT THE SORs MUST BE WITHDRAWN WHILST A SOLUTION IS SOUGHT. The ministers who should be contacted in particular are Peter Hain (minister for Northern Ireland), Ruth Kelly and Meg Munn (who have jurisdiction over the England, Wales and Scotland Regulations).

Their contact details are:
Peter Hain, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. E-mail: hainp@parliament.uk
Ruth Kelly, Department for Communities and Local Government, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London. Telephone 0207 9444400. E-mail: ruth.kelly@commmunities.gsi.gov.uk
Meg Munn, Women and Equality Unit, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET. Telephone 0207 215 5000. E-mail: munnm@parliament.uk

All newspapers (national and local) are becoming increasingly interested in this matter. It is key for Christians to respond to articles that are written (particularly by sending letters to go in the ‘comments’ section of newspapers) by setting out clearly and truthfully the need for the Government to re-think the SORs. Commenting on online discussions relating to this matter is also an excellent opportunity to set out the teaching of the Bible to those who might otherwise not hear it.

We particularly need Christians who are providers of goods and services to speak out if the law will affect them, particularly if the SORs would force them to choose between following the Bible and following the new law. In particular, a Christian printer should draw attention to the difficulty they would have printing anything which promoted homosexual practice, a Christian teacher should draw attention to the difficulties that will be caused if pupils can sue them for teaching that marriage, not homosexual relationship, is the correct context for sex and for raising children, a Christian parent should draw attention to the fact that they want their child’s teachers to be free to promote marriage above Civil Partnerships, and a Christian leader should draw attention to the chilling effect that the SORs will have on their congregation who will be under threat of being taken to court if in living out their belief in the Bible, this requires them to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

For guidance on what to write on this matter, please use the Information and Action Pack, found at http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk/sor/10nov6.php (please note that this Pack was written before the issues surrounding the Northern Ireland Regulations came to light).


More press articles

Anglican bishop threatens to close youth clubs in protest at gay rights
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=419280&in_page_id=1770