Legal restrictions

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Alistair McBay of the National Secular Society (Letters, 14 June) says that it only wants St Margaret’s Children’s Society to obey the law. I would agree, but the question is, what does and should the law require? The Equality Act permits a charity to discriminate if that is part of its constitution. It is an exemption for charities that has existed since the first Race 
Relations Act and permits, for example, Stonewall to restrict its services to homosexuals. St Margaret’s merely seeks to use the exemption the law already permits. 

No person who has used the services of St Margaret’s has 
complained. The problem St Margaret’s faces is because the Secular Society has raised a purely theoretical complaint, which the Scottish Charity Regulator has approved in a flawed decision that shows a worrying lack of understanding both of the law and the nature and motivation of charitable organisations. 

Mr McBay refers to the case of Rosa Parks who famously sat in the whites-only section of a segregated bus in Alabama and was prosecuted for disobeying the US segregation laws, but he fails to understand the irony in his own position. In Alabama, the law compelled segregation, the bus company had no choice – it was obliged to segregate – and Rosa Parks was punished for disobeying an unjust law. The National Secular Society is far closer in spirit to the Ku Klux Klan than it is to Rosa Parks, because it is intent on using the law to enforce its own ideology rather than allowing St Margaret’s and other organisations the freedom to make their own choices as to how best to help children.

Neil Addison

National Director

Thomas More Legal Centre