Orders of the Day — Equality Bill [Lords] — Order for Second Reading read.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:40 pm on 21st November 2005.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:40 pm, 21st November 2005

I am sorry to hear the hon. Lady say that. I do not see why there should be an exemption in that case. It is hard when people are refused a hotel room simply for being a gay couple, when it is currently illegal for an ethnic minority couple to be refused a hotel room. I am sad to hear the hon. Lady's comments and I do not agree with her.

Today, Labour Members should celebrate our record on equality, not only in this Government but going back many years. On a day such as this, I think of our women pioneers.

Annotations

Neil Richardson
Posted on 23 Nov 2005 12:03 am (Report this annotation)

Because skin colour is not a choice, whereas sexual behaviour is. It's a simple fact that in the vast majority of cultures, in the vast majority of history, homosexual practice has been considered to be immoral. Why should hoteliers be forced to deny their conscience on this?

Simon
Posted on 26 Nov 2005 10:31 pm (Report this annotation)

Because it is discrimiation. I am sure there are/were cultures that condone murder, blood fueds, stoning, and keeping slaves (in fact, I could give several quotes from the Bible to prove that there were). Does that mean that people should be allowed to carry on these practices today?

Neil Richardson
Posted on 28 Nov 2005 1:16 pm (Report this annotation)

No society condones murder (because it is, by definition, unlawful killing). Blood feuds happen, but are always destructive and escalatory, and I'm not sure any legal code has ratified them. Stoning is capital punishment, and there are hundreds of societies today who accept this; in fact, the majority of British people today are pro-death penalty. There was even talk of bringing it back following the murder of that policewoman in Bradford. People might object to the method of stoning, but the moral rightness of capital punishment is believed in by a strong majority worldwide.

But every point you have made, Simon, is irrelevant. Sexual behaviour is a choice, just like religious belief. Therefore, we have a clash of rights when these two are opposed. Skin colour is not a choice- it cannot be changed.

Rob Newman
Posted on 29 Nov 2005 1:45 pm (Report this annotation)

Sexual behaviour is *not* exclusively a choice; many lesbians and gay men would consider their sexual orientation to be a part of their inate make-up — not something they could deny, or choose to alter.

Stuart Beamish
Posted on 29 Nov 2005 2:38 pm (Report this annotation)

To put this in context, they weren't actually refused a hotel room - they were offered a twin bedded room instead, in a B&B which was also a private home.

I think legislation should reflect this difference - if I can be refused a drink in a public house, and the owner is not obliged to give me his reasons, why shouldn't a person be able to say "no" to a letting in their own home without giving reasons ?

Would we be having this debate if they had been a young couple and the owner thought they might not be married ?

Neil Richardson
Posted on 30 Nov 2005 3:50 pm (Report this annotation)

Rob- sexual behaviour is *entirely* a choice. We may have less choice over what particular sexual temptations afflict us, but we all have a choice what we do with them.

Simon- superb points. I do agree that it is inconsistent of Bible-believers to criticise gay sex alone, as the Bible clearly condemns all sex outside of marriage.

Simon
Posted on 12 Dec 2005 7:04 pm (Report this annotation)

I think you were agreeing with Stuart Beamish, rather than me. I disagree with his second paragraph, for reasons I think I have more than outlined elsewhere - because it is discrimination. If the owner refuses to serve the man because of skin colour, etc., etc..

Your refutation to this seems to be that sexual behaviour (as opposed to orientation) is a choice. That is true, however, it entirely skirts over the point that orientation is *not* a choice. You seem to be saying (and please correct me if I am wrong) that it is OK for people who wish to engage in homosexual *practices* to be refused rooms, since they can just choose not to engage in them. In effect, you are saying it is OK to deny some who happens to be born with a particalar sexual orientation that right to find love and consumate that love.

Alright, so being refused a bed in a praticular B&B is not hugely likely to prevent someone from finding happiness, but take the limit. Imagine if the whole of society felt as the B&B owner did. The situation would effectively be that people born homosexual would be denied that right. If they are denied the right to express their orientation through sexual behaviour, that it as near as mokes no difference to discrimination based on their orientation. Which, as even you seem to agree, is *not* a choice.

Dr Peter Bowen-Walker
Posted on 25 Dec 2005 6:07 pm (Report this annotation)

If the consequences of the inconsistent logic applied by religious people like Mr Richardson in his arguments against homosexuality were not so serious I could be amused by the weak-mindedness of it all.

It appears that religious people claim it is perfectly valid to discriminate against individuals who exhibit the human trait of homosexuality because they “assume” it is a behavioural “choice” (against much recent research work). Yet, simultaneously, they demand that religion and religious beliefs need to be protected, respected and people exhibiting such ideologies must not be discriminated against (even if they believe in fairies under toadstools?). But it must not be forgotten that religious beliefs are themselves nothing more than a “chosen” set of ideas, which in many cases can be volatile and highly dangerous- often wreaking havoc where they have become embedded. Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights acknowledges religion as a “choice”, since in its provision, a person has the right to change their religion! My, my - How queer is that reasoning then!

Stuart Beamish
Posted on 29 Dec 2005 6:08 am (Report this annotation)

I still think the act needs to reflect the many differing establishments offering board in this country, and to allow people the right to choose not to let to people they don't want to.

I agree this is discrimination, but I think you should be able to refuse entry to people whose stance you disagree with, be it Wiccans, homosexuals, or Leeds United fans - into your own home. However I also think this should then be reflected in your advertising. "Room to let - no gays, witches, or Koppites."

Obviously this would not apply to a business establishment.

Dr Peter Bowen-Walker
Posted on 10 Jan 2006 11:43 am (Report this annotation)

I am personally of the opinion that if you are going to open-up your house or business to the public (such as by running a guest house), then you should open it up to everyone; without exception, discrimination or insult – provided their actions and life-style choices are legally sanctioned.

If you can’t face (perhaps because you hold strong Christian views) – that you may end up with a Satanist or a homosexual in your guest house; then you shouldn’t open a guest house in the first place rather than cause unnecessary offence by turning them away. Preventing people who discriminate, cause offence and distress from running a guest house is not a problem in my view. Causing offence and distress by discrimination IS a problem and should be criminalised.