Faith groups warned they 'must abide by laws'

 

Christians who think they should be exempt from equality legislation are like Muslims trying to impose sharia law on Britain, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said.

Trevor Phillips said faith groups that provide a public service must abide by the law.

Speaking at a debate in London on diverse societies last Wednesday, Mr Phillips singled out Christian adoption agencies that fought legal battles against rules requiring them to treat gay and straight people equally.

"You can't say because we decide we're different then we need a different set of laws," he said.

"To me there's nothing different in principle with a Catholic adoption agency, or indeed Methodist adoption agency, saying the rules in our community are different and therefore the law shouldn't apply to us.

"Why not then say sharia can be applied to different parts of the country? It doesn't work.

"Once you start to provide public services that have to be run under public rules, for example child protection, then it has to go with public law.

"Institutions have to make a decision whether they want to do that or they don't want to do that."

Last year, following a High Court case, the Charity Commission refused to grant an exemption from equality laws for Catholic Care.

The adoption agency, based in the Diocese of Leeds, argued it would have to give up its work finding homes for children if it has to comply with equality regulations which prohibit discrimination against same-sex couples wanting to adopt.

Lord Carey, a former archbishop of Canterbury, described the comparison with sharia as "ridiculous" and called for the Government to find ways of "accommodation" when new laws clash with religion.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "I have argued in the past that there can be only one law to which all should be accountable. But we are not starting with a blank sheet of paper as far as religion is concerned.

"We are a democracy in which Christianity is established in the Church of England and a nation profoundly influenced by this faith in its Catholic and Anglican heritage. We need lawmakers to respect this heritage and seek accommodation wherever a strongly held faith seems to clash with new legislation."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Project Manager - Vehicle Design and Build

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Engineering Project Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer and i...

Recruitment Genius: Document Controller

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Document Controller is required to join a le...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action