Pope attacks Equality Bill’s stand on gay and transsexual employment rights

The Pope has attacked the UK’s equality legislation Ð thought to include the government’s new Equality Bill Ð ahead of a visit to the UK.

Pope Benedict XVI said the UK’s equality legislation imposed “unjust limitation on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.

The Pope’s comments came just days after the government was defeated for the third time over provisions in the Equality Bill, which the church claims would restrict its ability to deny jobs to gay and transsexual people.

The law currently allows religious organisations to rule out some applicants on conscientious grounds, but the government had attempted to amend this so exemptions only apply to those whose jobs “wholly or mainly” involved taking part in services or rituals, or explaining the doctrines of religion.

The Pope told UK bishops who had made a pilgrimage to Rome: “Your country is well-known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society.

“Yet, as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.

“In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

His criticisms were also thought to relate to laws that came into force last year preventing adoption agencies from discriminating against gay couples, the Guardian has reported.

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