Equal share

PROFESSOR Norman Bonney’s attack on the integrity of the Equality Network (Letters, 14 March) is entirely without foundation. The organisation makes no secret of the funding we receive from the Scottish Government, for a range of LGBT equality work.

The government’s Equality Unit gives grants to a number of LGBT organisations, and to a range of other equality organisations, for work to help it achieve its aim of a fairer society. The funding we receive is a matter of public record, and is detailed in our annual report and accounts. But it has no effect on our independence.

Our position on LGBT equality issues more often than not puts us at odds with the UK and Scottish governments.

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Our campaign work is funded by donations. Supporters of equal marriage across Scotland very generously donated more than £30,000 to enable us to work on that campaign. We and our partners in the equal marriage campaign had to work hard to persuade the government initially that it was the right thing to do. And the parliamentary record shows clearly how we challenged the details of the legislation, and called for a number of important amendments, which the government initially resisted. Fortunately, we were able to persuade the parliament’s equal opportunities committee of the importance of the amendments and, as a result, they were added to the bill.

Our independence is critical to our success. We would not accept funding from any source that compromised it in any way. And to be fair to the Scottish Government, and to our other grant funders, none of them has ever attempted to use its funding as a lever to influence our position on any issue.

Tim Hopkins

Equality Network

Bernard Street, Edinburgh

Norman Bonney overlooks how questionable, arbitrary and religiously biased the conditions to gain charitable status are.

Pagans cannot qualify because they worship different deities; but followers of Odin can because there is only one of him.

Then you have so-called charities such as the Christian Institute, which was censured by the Charity Commission in 2001 for breaching rules limiting overt political campaigning for publishing a 100-page anti-gay report, and which in 2004 went on to fund a full-page newspaper advertisement in support of a controversial amendment to the Civil Partnership Bill.

Then there is St Margaret’s Catholic adoption agency which, alone among Catholic adoption agencies, uses charitable funding to circumvent equality legislation all the rest of us, companies and individuals alike, have to abide by.

Garry Otton

Secretary, Scottish Secular Society