Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Pope, Equality And The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has made great strides in bringing equality to it's citizens. Whilst I might not agree with exactly how it's done sometimes (I'm big on ensuring legislation defends free speech), I still wholeheartedly support the reasons for equality legislation. This is quite simply about ensuring all citizens are equal before public institutions.

This has come despite the usual religious opposition to the liberation of women and the GLBT community. On the one hand they defend the laws protecting them against religious hatred and on the other they attack laws protecting those who wish to live their lives in a way they disapprove of. This sort of hypocrisy is to be expected. But the Pope, who expects us to fork out £20 million for his upcoming state visit, has crossed a line.

When your average citizen criticises our way of doing things, I see no problem. But when a head of state, who also happens to be the leader of the world's biggest religious organisation, whose predecessors have a history of control and manipulation of other nations, starts telling us what to do or when to do it then they should expect some consequences.

The Pope told the Catholic bishops of England and Wales gathered in Rome: "Your country is well-known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society.

"Yet, as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.

"In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed."

My rights are not based on a "natural law". They are based on the laws formed by the Parliaments and Governments of this country, and in the European Union. What does the Pope want? A country where Catholics can be banned from jobs, from access to services? I think not. Yet he wants the right for Catholics, and others of faith, to be able to discriminate against those who do not share their beliefs (or even their EXACT beliefs)? Does he not see the slippery slope that would create? This cannot stand!

His crude homophobia and obvious dislike for democratic Government makes him unsuitable for an officially sanctioned state visit. Tell him, if he comes, he comes on his own terms (and pays for it too).

I shall be joining the National Secular Society's protests against his visit and I hope you will too.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

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