The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has questioned Pope Benedict’s attack on Britain’s Equality laws and stated that this reinforces the importance of creating a truly secular Europe in which no religion or belief system holds a privileged position.
Pope Benedict has denounced British law, designed to protect people from discrimination on grounds of religion or sexual orientation as an attempt “to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.” He went on to allege that “In some respects it actually violates the natural law.”
The Pope also had little time for dissent and insisted that it was important ” not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate”.
This comes ahead of the Pope’s planned visit to Britain and goes against the established convention that visiting foreign heads of state do not publicly criticise or attempt to interfere in the domestic politics of the host country.
GALHA has long supported campaigns for a secular society in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, guaranteeing people of all religions and none freedom of expression and belief, based on a framework of equality for all.
GALHA will be actively supporting the “No Vatican-London for a Secular Europe-Demonstration” on 14th February starting at the Italian embassy at 3pm.
GALHA Chair Adam Knowles commented:
“It is not often that we have to thank the Pope for making the case for a more secular society, but his latest extraordinary outburst does just that.”
“He maintains the slightly surreal stance that if religious bodies are not allowed to discriminate against others, then they are themselves being discriminated against. This logic belongs in Alice in Wonderland, not in British or European Law.
“Rather than defend this bizarre position with reasoned argument, he attempts to support it by semi mystical references to “natural law”.
“Only a secular society guarantees people of all beliefs and none equality before the law. That is why it is ultimately in the interest of Catholics as much as anyone else. Accordingly GALHA will be giving its full and enthusiastic support to the demonstration planned for 14th February and urges everyone who favours freedom and equality to do likewise.
“We also praise the courage of those Catholics who have been prepared to stand up against the Vatican’s denunciation of “dissenters”. For humanists, dissent is not only defensible but essential in the advance towards a better society.”