Will Commons sense prevail over equality?

Welcome to Cross Wires, the new Scottish Catholic Observer newspaper blog. Cross Wires aims to shine a light on the key issues and breaking news between weekly editions of the SCO so look in regularly for updates. You will find facts, opinion, analysis and plenty of food for thought.

PEERS  have voted down the government’s equality bill in a bold move that will protect religious organisations including the Catholic Church.

The Lords have voted 216 to 178 in favour of an amendment proposed by Lady O’Cathain to keep the current law that allow religious organisations to employ people whose lifestyles are consistent with their doctrinal beliefs.

The government had tried to amend Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill so that exemptions applied only to those whose jobs ‘wholly or mainly’ involved taking part in services or rituals, or explaining the doctrines of religion.

Lords leader Baroness Royall said that ‘the government’s intention is not, and never has been, to narrow the scope of the exception.’ However Church leaders feared that if the bill had been passed unamended it would have left them vulnerable to legal challenges.

It is not known as yet whether the government will attempt to overturn the defeat in the House of Commons. The best case scenario would be if Commons sense prevails and MPs accept the wisdom of the Lords on this issue.

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