Protestants and Catholics who have previously been fiercely critical of each other – refusing even to recognise one another as fellow Christians, in some cases – have come together to oppose legislation in the province that would require them to treat lesbian and gay people on an equal basis in terms of public provision.
The announcement that there will be no opt-out for Catholic adoption agencies from the Sexual Orientation Regulations, has been interpreted as posing a threat to the involvement of churches in public life.
A prominent evangelical Christian, the Rev Malcolm Duncan, who heads up the Faithworks movement ‚Ä' which is involved in public service provision ‚Ä' has welcomed the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) that some Catholic and Anglican leaders have described as compromising their consciences.
Tony Blair announced on Monday (29th January 2007) that faith-based adoption agencies will not have special exemptions from the new Sexual Orientation Regulations, but that they will have a ‚Äòtransition period' of 21 months before the SORs come fully into force at the end of 2008. He also paid tribute to the work of agencies motivated by religious faith, and stated that it was important to ensure that the expertise and services of these groups was not lost.
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) has given a broad welcome to Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposal that adoption agencies currently operating under restrictions imposed by Roman Catholic bishops should be given 21 months to find a way of continuing to serve children without discriminating against lesbian and gay couples.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and the most senior figure in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has claimed that the government's decision to refuse the Church an opt out from anti-discrimination legislation threatens the voluntary work of all churches.
Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, has warned that an unhealthy obsession with homosexuality means African churches risk ignoring real problems facing the continent ‚Ä' and has added that the mistreatment of lesbian gay people is like apartheid.
Responding to comments from Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and the most senior figure in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the independent UK religious think-tank Ekklesia says it is a mistake to automatically conflate church-based initiatives in civil society with government-sponsored services.
The UK government has announced there will be no exemption from anti-discrimination laws for Catholic adoption agencies, but that they will get 21 months to prepare for change, which will make it illegal to discriminate against lesbian and gay people.