Posts Tagged ‘Equality’

Recently there has been a lot of chatter in the news about the age old issue of religious discrimination. This week a Christian relationship counsellor is in court after losing his job for refusing to counsel gay couples. He is claiming it is discriminating to force him to give advice in contradiction to his beliefs. And not long ago a Christian nurse lost her case when she tried to claim she was being discriminated against after she was forced to remove her cross from her neck. The court decided the cross wasn’t “essential” to her faith and therefore she couldn’t wear it as jewellery is banned. She claimed that she’d worn it for years and there’d been no problem.

It may seem ludicrously bureaucratic to some to force a change now if it has caused no problems. But it’s important to remember that the no jewellery rule was created to combat the spread of bacteria and MRSA. Therefore a ban should include all jewellery, full stop.

On the surface this looks like yet another religious person wanting special treatment. But this issue is a little bit more complicated. Christians are not the only ones wanting to wear jewellery. Sikhs wear bangles, bangles incidentally, which are still permitted. These bangles are obviously on wrists where they pose a much greater risk of spreading disease than a cross around a neck.

Exceptions are not only being made for Sikhs though. Muslim women are resisting new rules requiring people to be bare sleeved from the elbow down. Again this is aimed at curbing the spread of bugs and allows hands and arms to be kept much cleaner. Sleeves are a big potential breeding ground for bacteria. The Muslim defence is that women must not show their arms and they reel out their usual ‘modesty’ rubbish. We’ve even gone to the length of buying disposable sleeve covers to keep the complainers happy. Doctors have resigned and medical students are quitting, all because they’re being asked to show their arms.

This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. We have a hygiene standard aimed at making our hospitals as safe as possible, but we give some people special privileges because they think if they show their arms, or remove some rings of metal, they’ll go to hell. Not only that but we’ll even charge the taxpayer the bill for indulging their ridiculous fantasy.

Whilst making these exceptions for Sikhs and Muslims we’ll refuse to budge on the rules for Christians who want to hide a small cross under their clothes. I can understand the frustration of Christians who feel they are being singled out. It certainly poses questions about underlying motives in the justice system. I fear the system has become petrified of appearing racist; so makes such stupid rulings regarding cases involving ‘Eastern’ religions; while sticking to the rules when dealing with ‘Western’ religions. Why do so many of the religious fight for equality but happily accept a little special treatment if it’s offered? We’re heading into the territory of discriminating against the non-religious to keep the religious happy.

However, singling out the Christians is not the main issue here. We shouldn’t be allowing anybody to flout the rules. This country needs a backbone. Hygiene is the number one priority in our hospitals and it needs to stay number one. Keeping the religious happy should not be a higher priority and clearly it is.

Those who wish to work in a profession which asks things of them that their religion doesn’t allow need to ask which is more important: their job, or their religion. A Muslim woman who must cover her body could not be, for example, a lifeguard. She would have to accept that she couldn’t do this job because it requires that she remove her veil. A Muslim man could not insist on being allowed to wear his traditional dress and be a fireman. Neither could a Sikh refuse to wear breathing apparatus because he’d have to remove his turban. He’d have to accept that he’d have to sacrifice his religious ‘rules’ in order to be a fireman. This silly idea that we’re doing something horrific if we impose an occupational standard and ask a Muslim to bare her arms needs to end. Are we genuinely saying that if an aspect of a religious person’s job conflicts with their religion the rules should always be bent, otherwise we’re discriminating against them? And do we really think that we can operate every organisation, work place, school etc in harmony with every single religion? Especially when EVERY single religious ‘rule’ relies on the interpretation of a human being and so is always different.

Nobody is being discriminated against by the NHS. No religion was purposefully targeted in a bid to persecute and penalise its followers. It simply happened that a new rule change conflicted with their personal beliefs. This should not be grounds to grant special privileges.

The liberal world we now live in has come full circle. We created the concept of freedom and liberty and granted people the freedom to believe whatever religion they wanted. This is an important freedom to have and prevents government persecuting the religious. Despite its intended purpose this freedom has been hijacked by the religious. They have turned it into a weapon to fight a war they have started themselves. It is a war against the modern world and a fight against common sense. Instead of using it to prevent discrimination they are using it to halt any change which conflicts with their religion, insisting on the right to veto such changes. In doing so it is actually the non-religious who are being discriminated against. We are being held hostage by the religious who are slowly turning the country into a religious state.

Whilst freedom of religion is a vitally important freedom to possess, we need to forget this new found idea that religious ‘customs’ can never be infringed.

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I read a story today that cheered me up a lot. Shawn Hole was on a tour with his Christian mates and took it upon himself to engage in a spot of street preaching. Whilst doing this he was asked by a gay member of the public what his views on homosexuality were. “Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God – and so are all other sinners – and they are going to a place called hell” was his response.

He was then arrested, taken away in a police van, kept overnight in a cell and charged with breaching the peace and “uttering homophobic remarks” that were “aggravated by religious prejudice”. He plead guilty.

On the one hand this is a slight overreaction on the part of the police. All this idiot did was have a conversation with someone about his retarded religious opinion. Plus, there is an argument to be made for how it is offensive to say gay people are going to a fictional place. His views do prove his complete lack of sanity, but I think freedom of speech is important, more important than trying to silence every mentally ill person who preaches nonsense. It’s important we don’t tell people what they can and can’t say. Nobody has the right to not be offended. Everyone does, however, have the right to freedom of speech. Only when they step into the realm of inciting people to commit crime and violence should we stop them.

On the other hand, it serves him right! Lets remember that while the specific words he used on this occasion may not have been that offensive, he clearly thinks that just because someone fancies the same sex they are deserving of an eternity in a horrible place. Regardless of the fact that place doesn’t exist, he still thinks it does. So yeah, he wasn’t offensive in what he said this time, but his attitude towards gay people IS offensive. The fact he thinks he has the right to come the the UK and preach to us on the street makes him deserving of anything he gets. While we do have some street preachers in the UK, generally as a culture, we object to people pushing their religion in our faces. We don’t need Americans like Shawn Hole coming to the UK and trying to ‘save’ us. He’d be much better off trying to fix the hell-on-earth that is the United States Of America. They need his help much more than we do. We have, in astonishing numbers, woken up to reality in the UK and don’t welcome homophobes like this.

I could not be happier that this idiot spent a night in the cells and is a thousand quid worse off. Using religion as an excuse for being homophobic is a pathetic excuse. An excuse which doesn’t wash anymore. Religious racism is not tolerated, this is no different.

When will people realise that just because they decided to believe in a religion full of hatred, it doesn’t give them the absolute right to be as hateful as possible. While we shouldn’t physically stop Sean Holes from saying what he wants it should be made known that his ancient beliefs are not tolerated anymore.

Fuck off back to America. We don’t want your intolerance here.

With the census coming up next year I am reminded of the stupidity of the religion results from the last one. Nearly 400,000 people listed their religion as Jedi in a mocking bid to get it recognised as a bona fide religion. This, not surprisingly, did not work and whilst it provided some light amusement and plenty of press, nobody with half a brain cell would consider it to be a genuine religion.

So many people selected Jedi that they out performed Sikhs. According to the Sikhs however, this is because Sikhism was listed in the religion section and not under ethnicity. Apparently this caused many Sikhs to not report their religion as it was an optional question. Could they not be bothered to answer one final question? Either this, or they had such a strong objection to their religion being classed as a religion that they felt compelled to ignore it. I’d love to know where they think they could live without their religion being called a religion.

It’s this refusal or laziness to answer this question which makes the UK Sikh Federation’s planned ‘human rights’ lawsuit against the Office Of National Statistics completely laughable. Apparently their inability to complete a form justifies the huge expense to the taxpayer such a lawsuit would cost. Their cobbled together claims that they are being denied the services they’re entitled to because of lower-than-accurate results is the lamest thing I’ve heard in a while. They should clearly just get over themselves and tick the bloody box.

The religious using the ‘human rights’ banner to bypass common sense is getting beyond a joke. Just last month a Sikh judge spoke out about how Sikh’s should be able to wear daggers to school or work. I had to check I’d read that right when I saw this story. We should allow children to carry daggers around in school because it’s their religion? Great idea. They themselves point to how these daggers are ‘ceremonial’ and are an important part of their religion; ‘essential’ to their faith. You can stab someone with a pencil, so giving kids daggers can only be stupid and just because they have decided they have to wear such a thing to win a place in eternity, they should not be allowed to walk around with them. Apparently these people think their right to walk around with a dagger is more important than my right to have a dagger free work place.

All this conjured up a question in my mind. If 400,000 people in the UK class themselves as Jedi, and given that recently a Jobcentre manager had to write a letter of apology to a Jedi who refused to remove his hood, shouldn’t we extend the same rights to the Jedi?

Surely in order for us to have an equal world they should be allowed to turn up at the office wearing their lightsaber. It’s really no different from a dagger is it?

I’m being sarcastic here. A Jedi’s insistence that he be allowed to walk around like a yob; just because he doesn’t have a life and watches Star Wars all day, is just as preposterous as a Sikh’s insistence he be allowed to walk around armed to the hilt; just because Guru Nanak decided it was ‘essential’.

Am I the only person who thinks this is going too far now? Maybe I should try and start a religion and see what stupidity I can get away with in the name of religion. I think I might call it “Seventiesism”. Essential to my faith will be the requirement to wear an incredibly large afro wig, bright flares and star shaped sunglasses. Given the logic being laid down by the powers-that-be I should be able to look like this even if I worked on the counter at HSBC.

Bill O’Reilly is a nob. That much is quite clear from simply watching 5 seconds of any of his shows. He’s homophobic, rude, arrogant, obnoxious and thinks he has it all worked out. He presents his opinions as fact and is incapable of discussing in a logical manner. He tells those he disagrees with to shut up and talks in such a patronising manner. Most of his beliefs come from a time when freedom was a dream.

If you want a prime example of his unintelligence watch his discussion with Richard Dawkins. He asserts that his belief in Jesus helps him, to which Richard Dawkins points out that it may well help him but that doesn’t make it true. His response is that his belief is ‘true to me’. Richard tries to point out to him that it cannot be ‘true to him’, it has to be either true or not. O’Reilly disputes this, saying “No no no!”

As a Brit I find it hard to understand how he’s allowed to say the things he says on TV. It would never happen in this country because we’re not stuck in the dark ages like much of America is. In the UK we’ve accepted that religion should be a private choice and our TV presenters shouldn’t spout their own religious superstitions as if they are fact. We would never allow a paid member of staff of a large media organisation to be blatantly homophobic. So it begs the question why is he given airtime? Does his opinion reflect that of a large enough section of American society to justify the offensive things he says?

I watched a clip on the net today where he was discussing whether or not it was acceptable for a school to choose a young lesbian couple as their ‘cute couple’. The opinion of his guest was, rightly, that there should be no problem. That it was wrong for the school to penalise them because they were lesbians. That it showed that homosexuality was becoming normalised and that was a good thing.

O’Reilly openly admitted he wouldn’t have a problem if it was a straight couple, his reason: ‘we shouldn’t be promoting sexuality to teenagers’. In other words he tried to spin it and make it about promoting promiscuity. His guest tried to explain it wasn’t about that, it was about being in love, to which he implied they were just being rebellious and didn’t know what they wanted. He basically said that they should keep it to themselves, that he didn’t have a problem if they wanted to be lesbians, but that he didn’t want to know about it. By openly being lesbians, he claimed, they were flaunting it. (who doesn’t want to flaunt the fact they’re in love?). He then went on to say that it was wrong to normalise homosexuality within education system. Note he spoke on behalf of “50-60% of the country” in an attempt to pass his own view on to everyone else. This guy is so full of shit.

If 50-60% of the US thought that a particular race were all evil would that make their point valid? He clearly thinks that under 18’s are not capable of knowing they are gay.

So he basically thinks that because he chooses to follow a 2,000 year old book everyone else has to hide so as to not offend him? It’s about time FOX news showed O’Reilly the door. If, as he says, 50-60% of Americans share his view, it’s about time the United States entered the 21st century and dropped their homophobic views.

I’m so happy that I’m lucky enough to NOT live in the US.

Times Online – Catholic adoption agency seeks exemption on gay adoption regulations

It’s no surprise but the Catholics are flexing their muscles again and still refusing to enter the 21st century. A Catholic adoption agency is now seeking permission in the High Court to refuse to give children to gay couples despite the law. They’re going on about how other Catholic agencies have been forced to close as a result of laws prohibiting discrimination.

They’re claiming that by being forced to close the effect it will have on the children waiting to be placed outweighs the harm caused by refusing gay couples. The fact is they are not being forced to close. They are choosing to close rather than cast aside their outdated practices. It cannot be just accepted that religion is used as a trump card, one that allows them to do anything. If we allow one religion to discriminate we have to allow all to do so, the opportunity for abuse this creates is massive. I don’t need to list the horrendous things that people have done because it’s ‘their religion’.

Other agencies have gone in the right direction, they’ve dropped their religious status and started concentrating on putting kids in good homes. Religion should not come into the process of placing needy kids in loving homes. It is founded on incorrect notions and age old traditions and it should be kept away from children who have lost their parents. The choice to follow religion should be made by adults who understand what it is they are choosing, it should not affect where or with who a child is placed. These kids need to be in loving homes where they get the things they need. Who do these Catholics think they are to decide that because a couple are of the same sex they can’t provide this?

I just hope the people sitting over this case see sense and see that the freedom of gay couples to be themselves is far more important than allowing a religious group to discriminate against them because a book they decided to follow says they have to.

It’s an inescapable fact that we are all animals on this planet. We are Homo Sapiens and we evolved in the same way as everything else. We are not bound by the rules conjured up by our ancestors. The sooner this adoption agency wake up to that the better.