Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Morecambe & Wise Can Stay in Hotel, Court Rules

The welcome news that a gay couple have won their case for unfair discrimination against the Bulls, of the Chymorvah Hotel, near Penzance, who refused to let them share a double bed, has provoked predictably hysterical responses from Christians. This case was brought under the Equality Act 2010, which consolidated Britain's previously diverse laws on discrimination, and looks to ensure that Morecambe and Wise, and Laurel and Hardy, as well as civil partners, can seek accommodation (and engage with other businesses) without fear of censure, humiliation and no roof over their heads. In fact, in my youth, penury drove me to share double beds with my mates on occasion, for anything but carnal purposes.

One of the problems with this whole area is the equivocation between discrimination and unfair discrimination - 'discrimination' is often used as a shortened version for the unfair one. And the Act doesn't help too much; the preamble includes:
...to reform and harmonise equality law and restate the greater part of the enactments relating to discrimination and harassment related to certain personal characteristics...
Clearly there is a presumption that discrimination based on personal characteristics is unfair. The judgement stated the law as it stands:
For the purposes of these Regulations, a person (“A”) discriminates against another (“B”) if, on the grounds of the sexual orientation of B or any other person except A, A treats B less favourably than he treats or would treat others (in cases where there is no material difference in the relevant circumstances) .
And hear the unfairness is made as clear as it ever is ('unfair' doesn't feature in the Act); to treat someone less favourably because of x, where x is a personal characteristic.

The relevant protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. So, conversely, a gay couple running a hotel couldn't refuse entry to Christians because of their homophobic beliefs; more debatable, this, I think, since beliefs are far more variable and self determining than sexual orientation. But, on balance, I'd rather err on the liberal side on that one, and agree with the Act.

Anglican blogger Cranmer brings up an interesting conundrum; how can we tell if the Bulls are prejudiced? It's plain we cannot tell exactly, and as long as we resist the thought police, we never shall. But laws must operate on actions, and the actions of the Bulls were unfairly discriminating, so the law can conclude that their actions were prejudicial. If the Bulls maintain they love all things homosexual or, more reasonably, are indifferent to them, fair enough. But the law cannot act on that.

Christians disingenuously point out that unmarried heterosexuals are also banned, so the ruling should not apply. But that is a bogus argument; Christian disqualification of gay marriage ensures the effect is discriminatory. The Act explicitly equates marriage and civil partnership in any case, making the legal case invalid too.

Cranmer objects to (Director of Stonewall) Ben Summerskill's words:
Religious freedom shouldn't be used as a cloak for prejudice.
Why would anyone think that religious freedom was being used as a cloak for prejudice?

Here are a few of the comments:

Rebel Saint says:
The gay mafia are well organised and have lots of friends in high places due to their over representation in the media. However the feeling amongst the population at large - particularly the C2DE's - is still disgust and antipathy (go read the comments on the Sky News website for example). Alas, they can't be bothered to vote so the gay mafia win.
Bred in the Bone says:
They should inform all guest both hetro and homo that buggery is unacceptable on these premises without discriminating.
Then when guests check just ask them do they like it up the arse.
Oswin said:
Bred in the bone
Tee hee ... harrumphs! :o)
And in a subsequent post, English Viking said:
Homosexualists are perfectly capable of getting married, and having children for that matter.
They have exactly the same choice as a normal person; marry a nice lass.
PS Don't call me a bigot for the use of the word 'normal'. It won't work.
No, I can't imagine what gives people the idea that religious freedom is being used as a cover for prejudice.

Finally, Commenter Anabaptist makes clear again the theist obsession with theocracy, just as Catholics and Muslims all too often do:
Christians need to continue to act according to their faith, neither expecting nor demanding privileged treatment by the state, and taking the consequences as did Jesus and Paul. 'We should obey God rather than men,' is the principle that was applied by the apostles, and it needs to be ours.
If anyone honestly believes this, then it renders them a fifth columnist in their own country, prepared to usurp its properly made laws in favour of a barbarous tradition. It's the same madness that drives Catholics to protect paedophiles and Islamists to blow up innocent commuters.

It is simply evil.
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