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Equality: Sexual Orientation

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 (SI 2006/439) protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion against unnecessary limitation, in accordance with Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights; and, if so, in what ways. [HL438]

The regulations have been drafted in accordance with the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion has been afforded protection under the terms of Regulation 16. This provides an exemption from the regulations where organisations exist whose purpose is to practice, advance or teach the practice or principle of a religion or belief; or to enable persons of a religion or belief to receive any benefit or engage in any activity within the framework of that religion or belief. In all cases the protection is afforded where it is necessary to comply with the doctrines of the organisation or to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.