The Government Must See the Sexual Orientation Regulations Through With No Further Exemptions.

The National Secular Society (NSS) has welcomed the House of Lords decision to approve the Sexual Orientation Regulations, saying that “this is only the first step – the real battle will be to get the version covering England and Wales through without them being rendered meaningless with religious exemptions.”

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the (NSS) said: “Tonight’s result is very welcome news and we are glad that most peers did not fall for the misleading propaganda that religious groups have been putting out about these Regulations. We hope that tonight’s decision will strengthen the Government’s resolve to put the English and Welsh version of the Regulations through without compromising them. They must have learned from the dishonest campaign that has been waged against the Northern Ireland Regulations that the religious lobby is overstating its case and using this as a test of its influence. There must be no further concessions.”

Mr Wood said that the Regulations already had too many exemptions that protected religious doctrine, but the Christian activists now seemed to want to render them meaningless with ‘conscience clauses’ that would absolve them of the responsibility of abiding by the law that everyone else in the country must abide by. He called on Communities Minister Ruth Kelly not to give in to pressure from religious groups and to deliver the same protection to gay people as it had to all other disadvantaged groups.