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Letter in Telegraph Friday 13 October

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Philip Johnston’s article on the Sexual Orientation Regulations (2nd Oct) makes a perceptive point. Irrespective of sexual orientation or religious viewpoint, the Government should not have the power to force people to act against their conscience, provided this does not infringe the legitimate rights of others or the laws and customs of the country. The current proposals for the Regulations would infringe the right of Christians and Jews to act in accordance with the doctrinal teaching of their respective faiths which says that the practice of sex outside heterosexual marriage is wrong.

Further, to allow the executive to use secondary legislation, not subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny, to pass such a law is dangerous. Who will be next in finding that their morals, beliefs or lifestyle, are no longer acceptable to the Government?

The Government announced last week that there would be a 6 month delay in implementing the Regulations: we hope that this is recognition that, in their current form, the proposals are unworkable. The Government and the Women and Equality Unit of the DTI (the originators of the law) must ensure that the Regulations protect the basic right to freedom of conscience.

We do not think that anyone who reflects carefully on the SORs could oppose a suggested amendment to the Regulations which states ‘Nothing in these Regulations will force anyone to promote, facilitate, encourage or assist the practice of a sexual orientation in a manner which is contrary to the strongly held religious convictions of the person’. We hope the Government will agree and act accordingly.

John Scriven, Chairman, Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship
The Venerable Michael Lawson, Archdeacon of Hampstead
Dr Philip Giddings, Vice Chair of House of Laity of General Synod
Yaqub Masih, Secretary General, UK Asian Christians
Colin Dye, Senior Minister, Kensington Temple
Reverend John Noble, Chairman of the National Charismatic Leaders Conference

(To contact signatories on this letter call Andrea Williams 0771 2591154. Partnership House, 157 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8XN)