"Diversity and Equality"

The "EU Network of Experts on Fundamental Rights" gave an Opinion (No 4-2005) on "The right to conscientious objection and the conclusion by EU members of concordats with the Holy See". (The full text of the "Opinion" is at http://www.crlp.org/pdf/CFR-CDFopinion4-2005.pdf)

Basically, it is trying to undermine the draft treaty between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See where the treaty allows for conscientious objection e.g. by doctors not wishing to carry out abortions (or registrars not wishing to conduct same-sex partnership ceremonies.)

The "Experts" are worried that conscientious objection is in conflict with the "right to have access to lawful abortion services" and conclude that doctors who object to abortion must refer women to someone who will do the abortion. They also go on to say that Catholic organisations may choose to discriminate in favour of Catholics if there is a genuine occupational requirement but that they may not use this provision to justify not employing someone because of their sexual orientation ("whether that sexual orientation is hidden or not")

So far, so typically EU. But then, in support of the non-discrimination against homosexuals, they quote ... The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales! (page 26, quoting "Diversity and Equality").

Diversity and Equality, published last year, was prepared by the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship and approved for publication by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. At the front, the document states "Production of this publication has been made possible with funding from The DTI (Department of Trade and Industry)" and it carries the DTI logo.

One of the key concerns of the document is set out as follows:
As employers, subject to limited and narrow exceptions, Catholic organisations must ensure that no job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment than another on the grounds of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age.

There does not seem to be any clear distinction made between the various different kinds of diversity mentioned. Indeed, the document affirms that:
The Catholic community includes people of heterosexual, homosexual and bi-sexual orientation.

In view of this, some pro-life groups in England have expressed concern at the recommendation which runs as follows:
There are other situations which are in principle open to all but where some groups are under-represented (eg Parent Teacher Associations, Justice and Peace Groups and other voluntary associations). In such situations it is important to reflect on the reasons for any lack of participation by particular groups and to try to eliminate anything that unnecessarily discourages full participation. In some cases, it will be appropriate to make special efforts to encourage the participation of under-represented groups.

Perhaps we will not see any measures taken to constrain Catholic voluntary organisations to monitor whether they are employing a balanced ratio of "people of heterosexual, homosexual and bi-sexual orientation". However Catholic organisations would reasonably wonder how much support they would receive if they were targeted by a militant homosexual group trying to test their employment policy.

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