Equality Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 9th November 2005.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Miller of Hendon Baroness Miller of Hendon Spokespersons In the Lords, (Also Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland - Not In Shadow Cabinet) 3:15 pm, 9th November 2005

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Alli, will also feel able to thank me. I have every sympathy with the objectives that the noble Lord seeks to achieve with these amendments. I am certain that there should be no discrimination or harassment against anyone on any ground whatever, including sexual orientation. I also believe that the noble Lord will agree with me that respect has to be given to the susceptibilities of others on genuine—I stressed the word "genuine"—and deeply held religious beliefs. I am sure he will agree with me as his Amendment No. 41 states in subsection (3)(e):

"provides for exceptions (whether or not of a kind similar to those provided for by Part 2 of this Act or any other enactment relating to discrimination or equality)".

I very much hope that the noble Baroness will take reasonable and long-held religious views into account when drafting the regulations. While Amendment No. 41 says, in reference to regulations, that the Secretary of State "may" make regulations about discrimination or harassment on grounds of sexual orientation, there is clearly no compulsion. I hope that the noble Baroness is able to do that.