Bishop says Church of England should lose exemption from discrimination laws

The Bishop of Buckingham has called for the Church of England to be stripped of an exemption in equality laws that allow it to openly discriminate against gay people.

The Equality Act, signed in 2010, consolidated laws that outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and other protected characteristics, but at the same time handed a broad opt-out to the Church.

The exemption from discrimination laws has been deployed by the church on a number of occasions, most notably after a hospital chaplain was sacked for getting married to his same-sex partner.

But at the same time the church has threatened to bring legal action under the Equality Act itself, threatening a lawsuit under the Equality Act after a cinema chain declined to air an advertising chain.

Speaking to The Times this week, a senior bishop said that the Church should lose its broad opt-out from the rules.

Asked if it the law should be changed, the Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson said: “Yes.”

Dr Wilson said: “The Equality Act is used as an accountability standard in modern Britain.

“It describes how we understand public accountability in every institution except the church. That does seem quite extraordinary.”

He added: “If the church were far more observant of the Equality Act, then deep structures of abuse, homophobia and sexism would not be embedded in the church in the way they are.”

“It’s in Romans 13.”

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