Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell

An equality bill which is being supported by the British government has come under fire from gay organisations and campaigners.

Some LGBT groups are critical of the exemption the bill gives to faith schools in tackling discrimination. They say it also does not protect against homophobic harassment by owners of properties and the providers of services.

Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell believes that these elements undermine the good intentions of the Equality Bill.

“[Religious schools] will be allowed to teach sex and relationship education in accordance with their anti-gay religious values, including the idea that gay people are sinners, unnatural, immoral and inferior human beings,” he said.

He also believes that the lack of protection against service providers and property owners is unfair. “Such harassment is outlawed on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, race and sex but not on the grounds of sexual orientation,” he said. “This omission gives a green light to homophobes. They won’t face sanctions for homophobic harassment under this legislation.”

Tatchell urged the government to immediately amend the bill.

He also criticised leading gay lobby group Stonewall for supporting the legislation, as the group claims that homophobic and transphobic harassment are not significant problems and can be dealt with under existing legislation.

“Stonewall boasts that its stated purpose is to “promote equality,” yet it is ignoring the unequal treatment of LGBT people in this Bill. This collusion with discrimination reinforces the fear that Stonewall has compromised its political independence and is too closely identified with the Labour government,” said Tatchell.

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