Stonewall lobbies peers over discrimination regulations

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Staff at the gay rights organisation Stonewall have been lobbying members of the House of Lords ahead of today’s debate on the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

Chief Executive Ben Summerskill told that the organisation had been working for weeks to persuade peers to vote down Lord Morrow’s proposal, which would rescind the regulations in Northern Ireland.

“We will go on working until the beginning of the debate just as we have been through the Christmas period,” Mr Summerskill said.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations took effect in Northern Ireland on January 1st.

Today’s debate in the House of Lords was secured by Democratic Unionist peer Lord Morrow, and only refers to the introduction of the SOR in Northern Ireland, though peers will take the opportunity to discuss the introduction of the regulations in England and Wales, which is due to happen in April.

Lord Morrow’s motion, if passed, would, “move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Regulations, laid before the House on 24 November, be annulled.”

Mr Summerskill refused to be drawn on the likely result of the vote.

“Trying to predict what will happen in the House of Lords is like trying to predict the British weather,” he commented.

However, it is unlikely that peers will vote to rescind legislation already in place.

While Labour and LibDem peers are certain to vote down Lord Morrow’s proposal, all eyes will be on the Conservatives.

David Cameron’s desire to make the party gay friendly has been opposed by some traditionalist peers, and today’s debate might give some of them an opportunity to show their displeasure at the direction the 40-year-old leader is taking the party.

26 bishops, known as the Lords Spiritual, also attend the House of Lords, and it is expected that some of them will speak in the debate, which should begin around 7pm.