Church of England still failing over equality say women

By staff writers
April 4, 2007

The Church of England is still dragging its feet and failing to come into line with laws concerning the equal treatment of women, women within the Church have said.

The comments came ahead of this Friday, when the new Gender Equality Duty becomes law in England.

The comments also come as calls grow for churches to end the opt-outs that they have negotiated on a range of issues to do with equal opportunities. These include the right of church schools to discriminate in admissions, and the rights of Christian organisations, churches and schools to discriminate in employment.

The Church of England and the Catholic church recently failed in an attempt to allow Catholic adoption agencies to be given rights to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, is currently being accused of unlawfully discriminating against a homosexual man who was turned down for the post of youth worker within his diocese - a charge he denies.

Speaking about the new Gender Equality Duty, a statement from Women and the Church (WATCH) said: "Yet again the Established Church has managed to gain exemption from the law of the land".

The new exemptions are from requirementes to eliminate of unlawful discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sex, and from the promotion of equality of opportunity between women and men, say campaigners.

"WATCH (Women and the Church) believes it is time that the Church of England complied with the law of the land and stopped discriminating against women on the grounds of sex." a statement said.

"Like the vast majority of Church members, WATCH thinks it is time that women as well as men were allowed to be bishops, on a par with their male colleagues, and urges the Church to move swiftly towards making this a reality.

"This Friday is also Good Friday, commemorated by Christians across the world as the day when Christ was crucified. On this holy day when Christians believe human brokenness and sin were healed and transformed by the power of God’s unconditional love.

"WATCH asks the Church of England to change its policies and come into line with legislation that shows it values equally both halves of the human race. When it does this, WATCH believes the Church will be able to speak with more integrity and
conviction about the Good News of Jesus Christ – Good News for both women and men."

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