Friday, March 21, 2008

let's all have the same amount of rights

In my home country of Scotia, a married couple, both with employed by Strathclyde Police, have won the first round in their fight against discrimination by their employer.

What they are objecting to is that their status has been changed from "married" to "married/civil partnership".

To get a reasonable picture of the case, I thought I would have to link to a Christian site, but the Pink News captures the essence of the affair succinctly and, in my view, in a non-partisan manner:

"The couple added that the change to their "true legal and religious status" amounted to sex discrimination and religious discrimination.

"Mr McQuade, 49, a communications officer with the force, that [sic] no slur
was intended on the gay community.

"Strathclyde police claim that if they were to separate the 'married' and 'civil partnership' options on the employees records then they would be 'outing an individual's sexual orientation against their wishes or without their clear permission, which is inappropriate
and a breach of privacy.'"

What I find difficult to understand is why listing a partnership as either "marriage" or "civil partnership" is tantamount to "outing" anybody; surely names like "Lucille and Frank" or "James and John" tell you all you need to know.

I too have no wish to slur the gay community. What worries me is that, say, in the field of criminal justice, more weight is given to the sentence of a criminal if their victim was gay. For example, in the US, a judge ruled that three men who killed a man who happened to be gay - a heinous crime, of course - were to be punished as if it were a "hate crime", no matter whether hatred of the gay community were involved.

The offensive against "discrimination" isn't limited to sexual orientation. Recently, as Anne Widdecombe notes, an Anglican priest ended up in hospital because a small group of Muslim youths thought his church should in fact be a mosque.

In Scotia, the Offences Aggravated by Prejudice (Scotland) Act looks as if it will pass with minimal resistance. But, one has to ask, offences against whom? Imagine that I was set upon by two thugs, one a Muslim and the other gay: would I be able, if I still lived in Caledonia, to ask for justice under that bill? It seems more likely that, once functionaries had ascertained that I am a British heterosexual Christian, the case would be thrown out. If that isn't bad enough, imagine what might happen if I was Jewish: I'd probably find myself on trial for being Hebraic in a public place.

If equality is what gay people and non-Judaeo-Christians desire, I'm all in favour of that: I'd love to live in a society where I had as many rights as them.

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