Equal rights

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In arguing against me on behalf of a public service, funded for the most part by public money, Neil Addison (Letters, 17 June) claims that the Equality Act grants Stonewall a positive discrimination right to restrict its services to homosexuals.

However, it does not enable Stonewall to deny its services to homosexuals on the grounds of their religious belief, or their colour, or their disability.

As for the Rosa Parks analogy, Mr Addison misses a fundamental aspect of anti-discrimination law which is not solely about ensuring provision of services.

The wrong done by signs in 1960s boarding houses that 
said “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”, and the demands from some Christians today to add “No gays” to that list, go well 
beyond the denial of accommodation even if alternatives are available.

Discriminatory acts have a moral significance beyond the deprivation of the relevant service, and the state has a particularly onerous responsibility to ensure the equal dignity of all its citizens, not just those with a religious belief.

If Mr Addison thinks Alabama’s race segregation laws are comparable in effect with the Equality Act 2010, then I am not sure many people would agree with him. 

He may argue that anti-discrimination laws grant too much power to the state, or that freedom of conscience is such a fundamental liberty that the right to equal treatment should not curtail it.

This is a respectable libertarian argument.

However, the authorities in the UK and in a range of countries across Europe and North America have concluded otherwise and decided that the balance ought to be struck to protect private belief absolutely, but to restrict the ability to act out that belief in a discriminatory manner in the provision of public services.

I am pleased to say that the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has properly recognised this in its decisions on St Margaret’s Children’s Society

Alistair McBay

National Secular Society

Atholl Crescent

Edinburgh

Robert Anderson (Letters, 17 June) commits two logical fallacies: argumentum ad populum (many believe something, therefore it is true) and appeal to tradition (it has long been believed, therefore it is true).

Recently we saw Michael Kelly (Perspective, 13 June) citing the infamous Regnerus study. Thankfully, Tim Hopkins (Letters, 14 June) pointed out it has been discredited (in fact it was later retracted by the journal that published it, it was that bad).

There is no “rational moral objection to homosexuality”.

If there is then why do Christians resort to bad logic and bad science?

(Dr) Stephen Moreton

Warrington, Cheshire

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