Freedom of conscience should not be curtailed in the interests of “equality.”
Over past few decades I believe this country has seen the gradual erosion of freedom for Christians to practice and represent their faith, as the recent BBC documentary “Are Christians Being Persecuted?” uncovered. Instances such as when an airline hostess was challenged because she refused to remove a cross around her neck, a nurse suspended because she offered to pray with someone and a registrar asked to choose between her job and carrying out a ceremony for a civil partnership as well reveal that the freedom of some to practice what they believe to be true is being limited.
I support freedom for all and in doing so I uphold that everyone should be granted the same level of freedom. To advocate civil partnerships as a means of expanding peoples’ freedom (as true as that may be) and then to punish those who simply, out of conscience, don’t feel they can be party to the partnership and so request that they may be absolved from their responsibility of carrying it out, as happened in July 2008 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3972735.ece, strikes me as a contradiction. If people are free to practice what they want, surely people should also be free to disagree with those practices and be allowed to respectfully and peacefully opt out of any part of professional or civil duty that contradicts conscience with impunity.
I by no means seek to encourage any form of prejudice, but think that laws designed to advance equality should hold the interests of everyone at heart and grant people the freedom to disagree with an act as well as partake in it!