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Legal system discriminates against Christians: Bishop of Winchester

By Nairita Das

London, Dec 27 (ANI): Bishop of Winchester Michael Scott-Joynt has claimed that Human Rights Act may be protecting the rights of minority groups, but is also encouraging judges and politicians to discriminate against Christians in an increasingly secular society.

According to the Daily Mail, the bishop said that while he 'generally welcomed' the Human Rights Act, he was convinced about it being used without reference to religious sensibilities.

"There is growing up something of an imbalance in the legal position with regard to the freedom of Christians and people of other faiths to pursue the calling of their faith in public life, in public service. One major context is obviously the Human Rights Act," He added.

The bishop was backed by ex-Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf, who said the courts had gone 'too far' in restricting the rights of Christians at the workplace, adding that it was 'about time the tide turned'.

Both of them were speaking at the end of a year in which Christian relationship counsellor Gary McFarlane lost his appeal against dismissal after he refused to give sex therapy to a homosexual couple, and nurse Shirley Chaplin lost a discrimination case after she was moved to a back office job because she wore a crucifix.

During the General Election campaign earlier this year, David Cameron promised to abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, which would spell out rights and responsibilities based on British traditions.

However, he has failed to keep that promise because of a coalition agreement that promises only to set up a commission to 'investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights'.

The bishop condemned the treatment of McFarlane, who was sacked for refusing to give sex therapy to a gay couple because it contradicted his religious beliefs.

"We have had a statement from a senior judge this year that matters of Christian belief were only matters of opinion and the law couldn't possibly take countenance of them in coming to decisions about the rights and wrongs of particular behaviour in the workplace," he added.

Lord Woolf said: "The law must be above any sectional interest even if it is an interest of a faith but at the same time it must be aware of the proper concerns of that faith." (ANI)

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