Earlier in the month, Britain's House of Lords passed the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland), forbidding discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in Northern Ireland. This week, the UK cabinet has been wrestling with a similar provision for the rest of the UK. The Catholic Church - backed by the Prime Minister and Equality Minister Ruth Kelly - wanted a special exemption for Catholic Adoption Agencies to allow them to continue to turn away gay couples as adoptive parents. Today, their proposal was rejected by cabinet. And so it should have been - these agencies receive public money to operate a public service. To allow them to use this money in a bigoted manner would be simply intolerable in a modern, secular society. As Polly Toynbee said earlier,
public services paid for out of general taxes can't be held to ransom by the weird sexual fantasies of unelected service providers
The debate is now about how long they will have to either accept the law or close down. But despite the latter being threatened by church authorities, it is not much of a threat - Catholic agencies handle a mere 4% of adoptions, and it seems likely that many will simply secularise and continue their work, rather than close their doors. Meanwhile, the British churches have once again exposed themselves as havens of homophobic bigots (the Archbishop of Canterbury's betrayal here is particularly nauseating). Is it any wonder that most UKanians now think they're toxic?
As for Ruth Kelly, she has shown conclusively through her advocacy for bigotry that her private religious beliefs are incompatible with her duties as Minister for Equality. She should resign.