Following police action in a high profile suspected UK terror case last week, one of Birmingham's senior Muslim leaders, Dr Mohammad Naseem, chair of the city's Central Mosque, has said that Muslims in Britain are being labelled as a threat in a way that has parallels with the treatment of Jews under Hitler.
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society (NSS), has claimed that Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, is making false claims about the impact of the government's refusal to exempt the Church from anti-discrimination legislation.
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.
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.
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.
It would appear that the most senior figures in the English Catholic and Anglican churches have no real idea just how bad they look to a massive number of people right now. Living in something of an ecclesial cocoon, they express "shock" at the reaction to their determination to discriminate. I refer, of course, to the unseemly row over the Equality Act 2006 (due to be implemented on 6 April 2007) and Catholic adoption agencies.
There are serious confusions and contradictions in the position being put forward by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster over his claim that Catholic adoption agencies will be forced to close if the Equalities Act, due to come into force in April 2007, prohibits them from refusing homosexual couples.
As government ministers last night (24 January 2007) made it clear that they would not bow to strong pressure from Catholic and Anglican leaders who wish to retain the right for church-sponsored adoption services to refuse lesbian and gay couples, Harriet Harman, Minister for Justice at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, has reminded churches that it is not possible to be ‚Äúa bit opposed to discrimination‚Äù.
Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who is the second most senior figure in the established Church of England, and who has himself been the victim of direct racist prejudice in the past, has sought to defend the institutional church against charges of discrimination.