UK Christian Groups Cry “Discrimination” over Gay Rights Regulations

From BBC News:

Religious groups are to stage a protest calling for a halt to laws banning discrimination against gay people in the provision of goods and services.

Organisers say the Sexual Orientation Regulations would limit their right to live according to religious beliefs.

…The torch-lit rally, due to be attended by Christians, Jews and Muslims, is to be held in Old Palace Yard, opposite the St Stephen’s entrance to the House of Lords, from 1730 GMT to 2000 GMT.

…Rally organiser Ade Omooba said: “Senior lawyers have expressed the view that unless these regulations are amended, they will outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, only to replace it with discrimination on the grounds of religion.”

Omooba and his allies warn of religious printers being obliged to print flyers for gay nightclubs, and religious teachers being forced to promote homosexual civil partnerships (an interesting reversal of the notorious “Section 28“, which banned teachers from saying anything positive about homosexuality between 1986 and 2003).

The rally is just the latest stage of a campaign against the proposed legislation, which Omooba has waged mainly through an organisation named “Coherent and Cohesive Voice“. Back in July, this group produced a “briefing paper” for a rally, as quoted by gay Christian website Changing Attitude:

…The government is pandering to a minority group which is making the most noise.

The Government is guilty of Christianophobia in discriminating against 42million Christians.

…The SORs will force us to accept Civil Partnership services (gay marriage) in our churches.

The SORs will force individuals or congregations to provide services to homosexuals, thus forcing them to deny their Christianity.

The Government must add an exception to the SORs that Christians will not be breaking the law if they refuse to provide goods and services to people of different sexual orientations, if they do it because of their religious views. If the Government doesn’t do this, they will be making it illegal for them to be Christians.

Changing Attitude goes on to relate a rather melodramatic quote:

…George Hargreaves of the Hephzibah Christian Centre in Hackney has said: “I have already bought my orange jumpsuit, for no doubt prison awaits us as we fight against the tyranny of the Sexual Orientation Regulations. If opposing this law is to be counted as an act of civil disobedience, then in obedience to God we must act in loving and peaceful civil disobedience.”

Hargreaves has an interesting background, as was reported in the Times in October:

THE songwriter behind one of the most famous gay anthems has promised £50,000 to a group of firemen disciplined for refusing to hand out leaflets at a Gay Pride march.

The Rev George Hargreaves, a former music mogul who is now a Pentecostal minister, still earns an estimated £10,000 a month in royalties from the 1985 pop song So Macho.

The single was recorded by Sinitta, with an even camper B-side called Cruisin’, and became an instant hit in gay clubs across Britain, thanks to its catchy disco tune and cheesy lyrics, which included the line: “He’s gotta be big and strong, enough to turn me on.”

…In an election broadcast on behalf of his party, the Christian Party, he said: “Consider the influence of minority interests, such as the homosexual lobby, on all aspects of society, simply because they’ve made their presence felt. The ancient city of Sodom could have been saved if only righteous people could be found.”

His profile on the Christian Party website (dating from a period when he was based in Scotland) can be seen here.

July also saw a letter in the Telegraph, signed by Omooba and a long list of Pentecostal big hitters, such as Matthew Ashimolowo and Colin Dye:

Sir – We write as pastors on behalf of tens of thousands of black British Christians. Many members of our congregations in London left their home countries to come to England to experience the freedom of living according to their Christian beliefs in a Christian democratic country.

But increasingly the Labour Government is discriminating against Christians in order to appease minority groups. From the Government’s behaviour, it seems that those minority groups have disproportionate access to the ears of politicians and use that access to promote views and values that are contrary to the views and values which have been at the centre of protecting and promoting British families, schools and local communities for centuries.

…If the Government thinks that we will accept this law lying down, they are mistaken. This sort of Christianophobia from the Government is no longer acceptable.

The following November, Coherent and Cohesive Voice placed an advert in several publications; gay Christian Richard Kirker told the Pink News that he thought Hargreaves had provided the funding. The advert led to questions being raised in the House of Lords, as noted by Fisking Central. According to Lord Rooker:

The regulations are not concerned with what is taught in schools. That is rightly a matter for the Department of Education…It would be entirely within the spirit of the regulations for a printing shop run by a Christian to refuse to print fliers promoting gay sex, so long as that printer also refused to print fliers promoting heterosexual sex outside the realm of marriage.

Further, religiously-minded guesthouse owners would still be allowed to decline entry for “transsexual” couples, and firemen would not be obliged to take part in gay rights events.

The latest rally was reported a few days ago in the Daily Mail. That report adds that (link added)

Thousands of Christian lawyers are to petition for the Queen’s help to stop the Government from imposing sweeping new gay rights laws on Britain.

…The plea to the Queen is being made by the Christian Concern for Our Nation, an offshoot of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, a group which lists more than 2,000 barristers and solicitors among its members.

The petition warns the Queen the rules are a ‘serious affront’ to the Gospel.

…The Queen cannot herself bar the rules from being introduced, but could raise her concerns during her regular meetings with Tony Blair.

Any indication of concern from Buckingham Palace would increase pressure on Ministers to scrap the proposals.

The Independent notes that the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship is run by “Lord Mackay of Clashfern, a former lord chancellor during the Thatcher era”.

Ade Ooomba, meanwhile, runs the Christian Victory Group in Brixton; one report in the Daily Mail states that he runs “Christian Voice” in Brixton, leading to speculation of links with Stephen Green, but I suspect this is a mistake. Christian Victory runs a school in Brixton.

Name variation: Ade Amooba