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Equality Bill

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what representations she has received on the ways in which the provisions of the Equality Bill affect the rights of the individual in respect of freedom of religion. (323479)

My officials, colleagues and I have received a number of representations on a range of issues from both individuals and religion and belief organisations since the introduction of the Equality Bill in April last year.

The main issues raised were:

whether the Bill curbed religious freedom of expression;

restriction of freedom of conscience;

a perceived hierarchy of rights where some protected characteristics take precedence over the rights of the religious;

Catholic adoption agencies;

the occupational requirement employment exception for organised religion; and

faith-based care homes.

Such discussions and representations are ongoing as it is always important for Government to maintain a dialogue.