by Jane Mingay -
Eunice and Owen Johns are a God-fearing Christian couple, married almost 40 years, who offered a secure and loving family home to foster children aged between five and 10. But they are to be denied the opportunity to do so any longer because they are unwilling to promote a homosexual lifestyle to a child. Neither Mr nor Mrs Johns has anything against gay people but they are not in favour of sex before marriage, whatever an individual’s orientation. Their views were denounced by Ben Summerskill, of the homosexual pressure group Stonewall, as “old-fashioned”. Yet not that long ago they would have been considered mainstream and they are, in any case, the strongly held religious views of the couple.
The reason that they were even asked about their views on homosexuality was because Parliament passed the Sexual Orientation Regulations, making it an offence to discriminate on the grounds that someone is heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.
These are the same laws under which Peter and Hazelmary Bull, Christian owners of a guest house, were fined last month for refusing to let a gay couple share a room. But in the case of Mr and Mrs Johns, where is the victim? They were not turning anyone away. Quite the contrary – they were offering a home to children who will otherwise end up in care, and there are precious few people who will. Furthermore, since the children would be aged under 10, matters of sexuality are hardly relevant – or is it being suggested that they should be? Astonishingly, the High Court suggested that it was not so much their Christian faith as the moral certainties of the Johns that were potentially harmful to children.
There is another troubling aspect of this case. Equality laws are supposed to uphold the rights to religious belief. Yet the High Court ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation “should take precedence” over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds. Why has it been left to judges to decide whose rights trump those of others? This should have been decided by Parliament but, yet again, another sloppily drafted measure will have far-reaching consequences for freedom of conscience in this country.
Already the Roman Catholic Church has had to close its adoption agencies because they cannot conform to the law. Perhaps there is a historical irony here, because we are witnessing a modern, secular Inquisition – a determined effort to force everyone to accept a new set of orthodoxies or face damnation as social heretics if they refuse. Parliament and the courts should protect people like Mr and Mrs Johns, but have thrown them to the wolves. It is a disgrace.
HT: The Telegraph