Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Homosexual harassment law quashed

A judge in Belfast High Court has quashed laws which threatened the religious freedom of Christians.

Mr Justice Weatherup struck down the 'harassment' provisions of the Northern Ireland sexual orientation regulations.

This means Christians cannot be sued for expressing their opposition to homosexual practice.

The judge also ruled that religious liberty may be significantly affected by the regulations in individual cases which may come before the courts.

The judge added that in such cases County Courts in Northern Ireland should consider the principles of the Brocki case from Canada. In that case a court ruled that a Christian printer should not be forced to print material which goes against his core religious beliefs, but that a Christian printer must be willing to print other material, such as letterhead, for homosexual customers.

Yesterday's ruling also narrows the sexual orientation regulations in Northern Ireland so that they cannot apply to the school curriculum or affect every activity of a faith-based group which receives some public funding (only the specific activity for which a faith-based group receives public funding will be affected).

Christians offering accomodation can no longer be prosecuted for stating their opposition to giving a room to a gay or lesbian couple.

The case was supported by The Christian Institute, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Congregational Union, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Association of Baptist Churches, the Fellowship of Independent Methodist Churches and Christian Camping International.

The judgement is viewed as embarrasing for the United Kingdom government and having widespread implications, as the Government has already initiated consultations about whether to introduce the harassment laws into the rest of Britain as part of a proposed Single Equality Bill.

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