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.