My officials and I have received a number of representations from religion and belief organisations and individuals since the introduction of the Equality Bill in April this year.
Since April there have been meetings with the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, the General Synod of the Church of England and the National Secular Society.
In that same period we have also received 45 letters from religious or belief organisations and members of the public on the provisions within the Bill. The main issues raised were:
The public sector equality duty;
The occupational requirements employment exception;
Catholic adoption agencies;
The harassment provisions;
The curbing of religious freedom and expression; and
A perceived hierarchy of rights where some protected characteristics take precedence over others.
In addition to the representations mentioned above, a number of religious and belief organisations made submissions to the House of Commons' Public Bill Committee on the Equality Bill. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and the British Humanist Association presented written evidence. Oral evidence was presented by the British Humanist Association, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, the General Synod of the Church of England, the National Secular Society and the Muslim Women's Network.