Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Blair: soft on bigotry

The problem with Tony Blair is that he is very good at saying one thing while doing exactly the opposite. For example, take his position on the UK's Equality Act. After being forced to back away from plans to create an opt-out allowing Catholic bigots to discriminate against gays, Blair is talking tough, declaring that

"I start from a very firm foundation. There is no place in our society for discrimination."

Meanwhile, he is planning to create exactly such a place, by ensuring that the new regulations will contain a long "transitional period" for adoption agencies, allowing bigots to continue to discriminate until the end of 2008. And to avoid the embarassment of having his weak position strengthened in Parliament by his own backbench, he will not be allowing a free vote. There's no other wayto describe it: despite his tough talk, Blair is soft on bigotry.

Meanwhile, for the proponents of a religious exmption, there's this wonderful example of what this entails from a commenter on European Tribune:

I was listening to 'Any Answers' on Radio 4 earlier, which contained a contribution from a blind person who had been refused access to taxis and restaurants by Muslims because of her assistant dog.

That is now, apparently, and I think rightly, illegal. But I wonder how many of the discrimination-as-a-matter-of-conscience crowd would be willing to stand up and claim this form of exclusion to be just? Or is it only their religiously-inspired prejudices that deserve the protection of law?

I think the answer to the second question is obvious. This isn't about conscience; it's about bigotry, pure and simple.


Sorry for the off topic post. Are you able to contact me please?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/30/2007 02:44:00 PM

So atheists (or secualr humanists) can run a state-financed adoption service according to their belief systems, but Catholics cannot run a state-financed adoption service according to their belief systems.

If it's wrong for the state to discriminate between gays and non-gays, why is it okay for the state to discriminate between atheists and Catholics? =)

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 1/30/2007 04:51:00 PM

Graeme: the state isn't discriminating between atheists and Catholics. Rather, it is demanding that those participating in the public marketplace refrain from using the power they gain by doing so to exclude and victimise people. This is done to protect personal autonomy, and is no different from the ban on physical force which underlies functioning societies.

The demand of the religious for special treatment collapses the moment you look at it seriously. We would not tolerate any group demanding the right to discriminate against Jews, women, or the disabled. Why then should we tolerate discrimination against gays? it is the same kind of bigotry which drives it, and it deserves the same legislative response.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/30/2007 05:03:00 PM

The state, as a body among whose obligations is to ensure all are treated equally before the law, is required to ensure, in this instance, that gays can adopt.

It can fulfil it's obligation in more than one way: it can fund generic adoption agencies, or it can fund Catholic and atheist adoption agencies. As long as all can adopt, the government has fulfilled its anti-bigot obligations.

Similarly, in New Zealand, the Government, which has taken on obligations in Health, has chosen to fulfil some of those obligations by funding 'race-based' providers: if it funded these providers to the exclusion of others there would be a problem, but because it offers other health providers, such that all NZers are ultimately treated equally in health, it does not matter that some government funding for health is through what you might term bigoted providers.

As long as overall health treatment in NZ is fair, and overall adotion treatment in Britain/Ireland is fair, individually discriminatory providers do not present a problem to the state meeting its obligations.

Of course in situations where the overall treatment is discriminatory (e.g. so-called "seperate but equal" schooling), then there is a problem.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 1/30/2007 06:30:00 PM

Hey Idiot - children aren't a "public marketplace", they aren't something you should be able to "sell" to anyone who wants one.

I'm surprised you aren't hauling Mother Nature up in front of your high court of justice.

It is not bigotry to say that when a child is adopted the best situation is a good mother _and_ father.

Posted by Muerk : 1/30/2007 09:17:00 PM

Mu.... it sounds like the issue for you is more to do with sexual practice you may not agree with than with a caregivesr ability to parent. This is about addressing historical issues of prejudice to a group of human beings, who's sexual orientation is not a choice.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 01:32:00 AM

Every time progress is made on addressing historical prejudice agains gay people, there is a backlash in Italy. Look what is happening now the Italian Government, which looks like failing, in likely to fail at implementing legislation to offer a very basic level of recognition for gay Italians. They currently have zero rights in relationship recognition.
Italy, would be one of the most vile EU countries when it comes to intolerance. Gay Italians are treated like dirt with very very little support. The problem being the influence of the Catholics clergy over Italian politics. Think about that the next time you sip on your chianti or Italian marble your kitchen.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 01:40:00 AM

Not that you'd let that lead you to discriminate against Italians or anything...

Posted by Psycho Milt : 1/31/2007 07:38:00 AM

Graeme's position is reasonable. If the Catholic services represent 4% of adoption agencies, they're pretty much catering to their own constituency with their own tax money.

It's unreasonable (though not a readily solvable problem) to compel the Catholics to finance state adoption services which operate contrary to their beliefs.

A balance of state (ie non-discriminatory) services and interest group services that is broadly in balance with electoral makeup is in many ways more 'fair' than blanket state-run services.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 08:25:00 AM

"atheists (or secualr humanists)"

Graeme - I know you are not stupid so I presume you are being deliberately misleading.

The word you are looking for is "secular" without any additions such as atheist or humanist.

That means the agencies are completely agnostic when it comes to religious affairs. A very different position from atheism or humanism.

In short, being secular does not define your religious beliefs.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 08:36:00 AM

Anon @ comment 11.

No - it is entirely clear that state-run/financed adoption agencies could be secular and not conflict with I/S's anti-bigotry stance (or find great opposition from anyone).

I'm positing the proposition that I/S's stance would allow a privately-owned secular humanist or atheit group to run some state-funded adoption services in accordance with their beliefs.

I'm then suggesting then that the refusal of the state (in I/S's ideal scenario) to allow Catholic groups to do the same would be discrimination.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 1/31/2007 09:06:00 AM

"I'm then suggesting then that the refusal of the state (in I/S's ideal scenario) to allow Catholic groups to do the same would be discrimination."

Only because Catholic groups, by their very nature (ie their belief, sanctioned and promoted by the church, that homosexuality is wrong & evil) are discriminatory.

The church (or whoever) should reconsider whether they wish to offer this service using state money if the caveats placed upon it by the state are distasteful to it.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 09:43:00 AM

pablo - do you consider it appropriate the the NZ Government funds some healthcare through iwi- or marae-based programmes that are inherently "discriminatory"?

Some of these organisations, either deliberately, or merely in reality, cater solely to members of one race/ethnicity, so should they be funded by public money?

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 1/31/2007 09:59:00 AM

Pedophiles pretended to be gay and then of course became untouchable because anyone questioning them was a homophobic bigot...

"Liam Lucas was just one of the children abused by predatory paedophiles who took advantage of far-Left Islington Council's childcare policies in the Eighties and Nineties, when it pro-actively recruited gay social workers."

"Numerous children and other staff made allegations of abuse, but were branded homophobes and ignored."

Read the whole thing -


Posted by Muerk : 1/31/2007 10:32:00 AM

muerk - What an uplifting comment. I suppose it makes a change from pedophiles pretending to be Catholic priests.

Now, what was your point again?

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 02:15:00 PM

"do you consider it appropriate the the NZ Government funds some healthcare through iwi- or marae-based programmes that are inherently "discriminatory"?"

Yes I do find it appropriate. Both the government and the iwi have a stated aim of improving Maori health, so no contradiction there, and providing healthcare to Maori through "mainstream" providers has failed Maori in the past so why not change the way healthcare is delivered to that part of the population?

As a paakeha NZer I don't feel that the standard of healthcare my family & I receive through the equivalent of the NHS is compromised by this attempt to improve the standard of healthcare of another portion of the population.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 05:07:00 PM

Pablo - I agree, I too think that it is appropriate for the government to fund "discriminatory" health providers, as long as the overall health system is not discriminatory.

I just wonder why the same logic cannot be applied to adoption agencies in England - unlike something like schools, what is the concern that a gay couple might go through a Church of England adoption service, or a secular one, instead of a Catholic Church one?

In the same way the NZ government funds some maaori and some generic health providers why can't the British Government assist in the funding of Catholic, and Protestant and secular adoption providers?

Just as it doesn't matter that some NZ health providers discriminate, as long as all have access to adoption services does it matter that some of those discriminate?

Naturally there are some areas where having separate systems is inherently unequal, and those should not be allowed (e.g. the former "separate but equal" schools in the US), but is adoption like that? I don't think it is.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 1/31/2007 06:41:00 PM


2 points -

The Catholic Church reckons that children deserve a mother and a father. This is a resonable objection to same sex or single parenting adoptions. It's not one made out of a phobia. However by claiming "homophobia" it immediately shuts down debate.

The same method was used in the article I linked to - if you say anything negative involving gays then you must be a bigot.

By claiming victimisation, gays' needs can be placed over the childrens' needs.

Second point is that ++Rowan Williams helped support Liam get out of his terrible situation, previously on this issue I/S stated that:

"Meanwhile, the British churches have once again exposed themselves as havens of homophobic bigots (the Archbishop of Canterbury's betrayal here is particularly nauseating)."

Given Archbishop's association with Liam and the far-left ideology that allowed the abuse to go unchecked due to labeling people as bigoted homophobes, maybe ++Williams has more of a point than I/S concedes.

There is unjust discrimination, but there is also just discrimination. Placing ideology over children's wider needs can lead to situations like those in the article.

Likewise we see the same in the Church with priests and brothers who are known to be gay preying on teenage boys.

It wasn't small children getting abused, it was mostly pubescent male teens. But if the Church states it's a problem with gay men, there's the claim of homophobia because it's taboo to claim that gay men can be abusers, as opposed to heterosexuals.

Posted by Muerk : 1/31/2007 07:23:00 PM

"And furthermore, we speak of Jewish babies, female babies and disabled babies. We don't however speak of gay babies or lesbian babies or transsexual babies."

muerk, the reason for these things will become clear to you with the onset of puberty. Give it time.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 08:56:00 PM


As it was my birthday yesterday... I lurve you just so much you cutie pie sweet talker you!

Posted by Muerk : 1/31/2007 09:27:00 PM

Great - and for your birthday, may you attain every good little catholic's death cult wish of perishing gently in a state of grace before attaining the aforementioned inherently sinful condition of puberty. That'll be a fee pass to paradise, à la M. Goretti. Then, just when I'm convulsed with regret over my wicked webtrolling, you'll appear to me in a vision, expressing your unconditional forgiveness.

That'll be ONE bona fide miracle, putting you 33% along the path to canonization. If you're able to get the words out without moving your lips, that'll count as a second.

Trust me, I'm an unlicensed theologian.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/31/2007 11:15:00 PM

Oh Woppo, you're such a kidder. Biiiig Huuugs!

Posted by Muerk : 2/01/2007 12:40:00 AM

Graham, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. I see your point but don't subscribe to it!

This isn't a libertarian argument, it is about perpetuating bigotry.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/01/2007 11:52:00 AM