Gender Recognition Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:04 pm on 23rd February 2004.

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Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 5:04 pm, 23rd February 2004

My hon. Friend is about to deal with the conscience clause and the exemption for the Church of England and the Church in Wales. I hope that he agrees that members of other Churches, including the free Churches, also have consciences. Will he guarantee that the proposed legislation does not mean that Churches in other denominations will experience expensive litigation because of deeply held views of conscience? My hon. Friend will know of a case in south Wales in which an individual took a free Church to court unsuccessfully under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. It could have been liable to expensive litigation. What exemption is he prepared to give those free Churches—probably a small minority—that, because of their religious views, will not wish to accept the Bill?