Thursday, 18 March 2010

But some are more equal than others

You couldn’t make it up. Well, I couldn’t anyway. Catholic Care, a Catholic adoption agency has won a court ruling that means that it will not be forced to place children with homosexual couples.

The amusing thing, however, is that the reason that it has won this unexpected victory is that the government inserted a clause in the 2007 Equality Act, Regulation 18, which states:
Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful for a person to provide benefits only to persons of a particular sexual orientation, if—
(a) he acts in pursuance of a charitable instrument, and
(b) the restriction of benefits to persons of that sexual orientation is imposed by reason of or on the grounds of the provisions of the charitable instrument.
In other words, charities to continue to discriminate if the stated aim of the charity was to provide services to people of a particular sexual orientation. (This loophole was inserted to ensure that gay charities could not be sued for discrimination by heterosexual couples.) Catholic Care simply wrote an explicit reference to serving heterosexuals into its constitution, and won their case.

One can only fall about laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all. To quote Ogden Nash:
Any hound a porcupine nudges
Can't be blamed for harboring grudges.
I know one hound that laughed all winter
At a porcupine that sat on a splinter.
The serious side of this is that the government specifically wished to allow one group to discriminate in a particular way, while not allowing other groups to discriminate in a different way. In other words, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

In October 2008, the Libertarian Party sent copies of Orwell’s 1984 to MPs with an insert which said “This book, contrary to what your leader might think, is NOT an instruction manual, but a warning.” Well, it seems that maybe some politicians think that it is actually Orwell’s Animal Farm that is the instruction manual.

There has been a predictable amount of annoyance at the court’s ruling. The National Secular Society have shown themselves to be a radically unlibertarian organisation - in much the same way that the British Humanist Association did a couple of months ago. Surely there must be some organisation to represent secularist libertarians? Or is secularist libertarianism as much a contradiction in terms as theocratic libertarianism?

Edit: The Telegraph's article portrayed the reaction in terms of Christians vs. Secularists - e.g. "Secular campaigners condemned the judge's decision as "alarming" and "a major setback" for gay rights." I think this is somewhat simplistic. I was glad to see Nikhil Arora, an atheist who disagrees with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, welcoming the ruling over at the Adam Smith Institute blog.


patently said...

A wonderful example of the descent into farce that bad laws always initiate.

Note, though, that the Charities Commission initially refused to allow them to insert a clause stating that their aim was to help heterosexual couples. That must surely be discrimination... but as you say, some are more equal than others.

Young Mr. Brown said...

Note, though, that the Charities Commission initially refused to allow them to insert a clause stating that their aim was to help heterosexual couples.

Yes. I found that fascinating.

There are more details on the legal side of the case here. It's obviously a fairly complicated matter from a legal point of view.

Stuart said...

Excellent astute analysis Young Mr. Brown, I don't know how you do it.

Have cross-posted.

Young Mr. Brown said...

Thank you for your kind words, Stuart. To tell the truth, I don't seem to do it very often these days.

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