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Posts Tagged ‘Church of England’

IB imageRussia bans Trans* people from driving

Catherine Ravenscroft, Durham University

Last month Russia enacted a new law effectively banning people with certain illnesses from driving. Within the listed illnesses are those viewed as “personality and behaviour disorders”, for example transsexualism and other “disorders of sexual preference”.

The move was justified by the Russian government on the basis of a need to reduce the high rates of traffic accidents occurring each year. The country currently has some of the worst figures for road accident fatalities in the world and it is believed that stricter controls on those given the opportunity to drive will make the roads safer.

Nevertheless, the Act has received international criticism due to its potentially detrimental effects on the transgender community. Jean Freedberg, of Human Rights Campaign Global, argued that the ban is “simply another example of the Russian government’s increased campaign of persecution and discrimination against its LGBT population”. Like other critics, Freedberg fails to see the logic behind connection that the Russian government has drawn between gender identity and driver ability. As Shawn Gaylord, of US-based Human Rights First, argues, “banning people from driving based on their gender identity or expression is ridiculous”. He also expresses concerns that it could deter transgender people from seeking mental health services due to a fear of losing the right to drive.

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Hannah Al-Othman read law at Durham as an undergraduate. She now works for Shadow Equalities Minister Kate Green MP, and is studying for an MA in News Journalism. This post was originally posted on Hannah’s Comments.

A few weeks ago the Church of England voted on whether or not to allow women to become bishops. Apply this to any other profession and the very idea is preposterous: imagine instead the newspaper headline on Wednesday was ‘the General Medical Council voted not to allow female doctors to become consultants’. Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

The fact that the Church voted against allowing women to become bishops (to give credit where credit is due, the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy voted for, and it was only the House of Laity who voted against), is somewhat irrelevant. It is the fact that such a vote is even allowed to take place that is the issue.

The Equality Act 2010 set out a number of exempted professions to which anti-discrimination laws do not apply, and in most cases these are justified: actors, actresses and models are exempted – fair enough, you will normally need a man to play a male part in a play, or a woman to model a dress (but not always). Also, roles where there are ethnic or gender-based sensitivities are justifiably exempted, for example victims of rape may want to speak to a female counsellor, and male victims of domestic violence may want a male support worker.

However, I see no valid reason why a woman – or a gay man – should not be able to hold a position equal to that of a heterosexual man within the clergy. If a woman is capable of being a vicar, she is capable of being a bishop, and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous.

Opposition to women becoming bishops is based purely on sexism. I see no reason for Anglicans to be uncomfortable with having women in positions of power within the Church other than plain and simple prejudice. To allow women to do a job, but not to be promoted to a more senior role, is nothing short of scandalous. (more…)

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IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks

Church of England and Church in Wales Ban on Gay Marriage

Jayne Howell

The government is currently initiating legislation which would allow gay marriage in England and Wales.  There has been concern that this could cause a backlash from some religious organisations given that homosexuality is frowned upon in many religions. In a bid to appease conservative and religious critics, the proposed legislation would allow same sex marriages in religious institutions that wish to perform them but would not oblige them to do so.

When the Church of England presented its position on same-sex marriage in its submission to the Government’s consultation in June, it stressed that “the canons of the Church of England define marriage, in accordance with Christ’s teaching and the doctrine of the Church, as being between a man and a woman”.  This suggests that the Church was opposed to the idea of same-sex marriage and would not support the proposals.  However, the Church has expressed their “complete shock” at the ‘quadruple lock’ which will on ban the Church of England and the Church in Wales from offering same-sex marriages.  This shock seems to arise from the fact that the government has not consulted the churches in making this decision. It is felt that this takes away the choice from individual churches, given that some may be sympathetic to the idea of same-sex marriages in church. (more…)

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IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks

Women bishops – Church of England votes no

Catherine Donegan

On 21st November, the Church of England Synod faced its biggest crisis yet after voting against allowing women to become bishops. The legislation, which would have swept away centuries of entrenched sexism, was rejected by just six votes. Controversy had centred on the provisions for parishes opposed to women bishops to request supervision by a stand-in male bishop.

After a 12 year push the long awaited measure was dealt a fatal blow. The legislation had needed a two-thirds majority in each of the three houses of the General Synod to pass. The measure was passed by the synod’s Houses of Bishops and Clergy but was rejected by the House of Laity. The votes were 44 for 3 against with two abstentions in the House of Bishops, 148 for 45 against the House of Clergy and 132 for 74 against in the House of Laity. If just six members of the laity had voted for instead of against the measure it would have been passed.

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