Committee claims rights laws leave out Christians

Nina Lakhani
Monday 27 February 2012 01:00 GMT

Britain's equality laws have disadvantaged Christians and increased community tensions, according to a cross-party committee of Christian MPs and Peers published today.

The Freedom of Christians in Britain report – the latest in a recent stream of pro-Christian, anti-secular political interventions from various sources – claims that the 2010 Equality Act and Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have failed to protect religion while privileging the rights of other groups.

The growing number of legal battles on issues such as the right to wear a cross at work, not work on Sundays and not accommodate gay hotel guests demonstrate how Christianity is being forced out of public life in the UK, the report claims.

The inquiry, led by the new Christians in Parliament group, took evidence from 50 Christian and one non-Christian organisation, the EHRC.

The report follows comments by senior politicians that have caused alarm about the potential Americanisation of British politics where faith, in particular Christianity, is deemed an integral part of political rhetoric.

Last week the Communities Minister, Eric Pickles, vowed to overturn a High Court ruling which found a Devonshire council was acting unlawfully by including prayers at council meetings, while earlier this month Baroness Sayeeda Warsi warned that Britain was under threat from the rising tide of "militant secularism".

Ben Summerskill from Stonewall thinks the report is an attempt to turn back the clock on human rights. "This seems to be an inquiry about a group of people who are having difficulty adjusting to 21st century balance of rights. The reality is that religion is too often used as a cloak for prejudice for which there should be no room in the public domain."

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