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P. 1
Legal Opinion on the appointment of gay bishops

Legal Opinion on the appointment of gay bishops

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Published by andrewbrownguardian
Opinion obtained from Church House lawyers on how to discriminate legally against certain gay candidates
Opinion obtained from Church House lawyers on how to discriminate legally against certain gay candidates

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: andrewbrownguardian on May 26, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/12/2014

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CHOOSINGBISHOPS-THEEQUALITYACT2010
1.TheEqualityAct('theAct')hascodifiedand,insomecases.extendedpreviouslawinrelationtodiscrimination.MostoftheprovisionsoftheActcameintoforceonIOctober2010.2.Thisnoteisnotintendedasacomprehensivebriefingonalongandcomplexpieceoflegislation.Instead,itseekstosummarisesomekeypointswhichthoseinvolvedintheprocessofnominatingbishopsneedtokeepinmindintheirdeliberationsandwhenconsideringorinterviewingcandidates.Italsoprovidesmorespecificguidanceontwoparticularareas.
Generalprinciples
3.TheActidentifiesnine'protectedcharacteristics'.Theseare:age;disability;genderreassignment;marriageandcivilpartnership;pregnancyandmaternity;race;religionorbelief;sex;andsexualorientation.
It
thengoesontodefine'directdiscrimination'-which.ariseswhere,becauseofaprotectedcharacteristic,onepersonistreated
mote
orless
favourablythananother-and'indirectdiscrimination'-whiehariseswhereapersonappliesagenerallyapplicableprovision,criterionorpracticewhichputsanotherpersonwithaprotectedcharacteristicatadisadvantageandWhichcannotbeobjectivelyjustified.4.TheeffectoftheActistomakeitunlawfultoengageindirectorindirectdiscriminationincertaincontexts(includingemployment,certainsortsofofficeholding,theprovisionofservicesandaccesstopremises)unlessthelawprovidesforaspecificexemption.5.ThedefinitionsandexemptionsintheAct,whichtunsto239pages,arecomplex.Thereare,forexample,variouscircumstancesinwhicha'genuineoccupationalrequirement'canbeappliedintheemploymentfieldeventhoughitinvolvesdirectorindirectdiscriminationinrelationtooneorotheroftheprotectedcharacteristics.6.Unlessoneoftheexemptionsapplies,however,thoseresponsibleforselectionprocesseswilllaythemselvesopentolegalchallengeif,inanypartoftheprocess,theyappeartoallowaprotectedcharacteristictobetakenintoaccountinconsideringacandidate'seligibilityforappointment.
i
7.Thus,forexample,althoughdirectdiscriminationbecauseofthe~rotectedcharacteristicofageisunlawful,theeffectofexemptionsinthe
Act
istopermitthe
,
ChurchofEnglandtocontinuetorequirethatapersonmaynotbecomeabishopuntilhehasreachedtheageof30andalsothatheleaveofficeonreachingtheageof70.8.Butanysuggestionduringaselectionprocessthatconsiderationhadbeengiventowhetheraneligiblecandidatewasthoughttobe'tooyoung'or'tooold'wouldbeunlawful.Similarly,givingpreferencetoacandidatebecausehewasmarriedorbecausehewasnotmarriedwouldbeunlawful.
 
9.
It
is
also,ingeneral,unlawfultodiscriminateongroundsofreligionandbelief.But,again,thereisspecificprovisionforChurchesandotherreligiousorganisationstoimposerelevantrequirementswhenmakingappointments.10.
It
is,therefore,lawfulforJheChurchofEnglandnotmerelytogiveeffecttothegenerallegalrequirement~relatingtothequalificationsofthosetobeconsecratedasbishopsbutalsototakeintoaccounttheparticularconvictionsandChurchtraditionofcandidateswherethatisrelevanttothepostforwhichtheyarebeingconsideredandthecontextinwhichtheywouldbeexercisingtheirministryifappointed.
The
roleof
thebishop
11.Whenselectingthosewhoaretoserveitasbishops,priestsordeacons,theChurchofEngland,likemanyotherChurchesandfaiths,doesnotdrawthesamedistinctionasmostsecularemployersb~tweenaperson'sworklifeandhisorherprivatelife.Thus,tobeadmittedtoHolyOrdersapersonmustbe'ofvirtuousconversationandgoodreputeandsuchastobeawholesomeexampleandpatterntotheflockofChrist'(CanonC4.1).
12.
Additionally,abishopisrequiredtobeafocusofunity.Oneelementofthisislifestyle.UndertheCanonshehasaresponsibilitytobe
'anexampleofrighteousandgodlyliving'.
Attheirconsecrationbishopsareasked:
willyouendeavour
tofashion
yourownlifeandthatofyourhouseholdaccordingtothewayofChrist...
?'
BishopsareseenwithintheAnglicanCommunion
as
thosewhohavetheresponsibility
'toguardthefaith,unityanddisciplineofthewholeChurch'
(theVirginiaReport1998).13.AgainstthatbackgroundtherearetwoparticularissuesdiVorceandremarriage,andhomosexualityandcivilpartnership-whichmayariseinthecourseofselectionexercisesforepiscopalofficeandwherequestionsmayariseastowhatrequirementsmaylawfullybeimposedgiventheprovisionsoftheAct.Divorce
andremarriage
14.Inmostemploymentcontextsitisunlawfulforemployerstodiscriminateagainstpeopleinrelationtotheirmaritalstatusorhistory.TheActdoes,however,allowChurchesandotherreligiousorganisationstoapplyarequirementrelatingtothecircumstancesinwhichamarriagecametoanendorarequirementnottobemarriedtosomeonewithalivingf6rmerspouse._15.TheHouseofBishopsissuedastatementon18June2010(G8Mise960)clarifyingtheimplicationsofmarriageafterdivorceforeligibilityforordainedministry,includingtheepiscopate.Thestatementnotedthattherewasnolegalprohibitionontheconsecrationtotheepiscopateorappointmenttoepiscopalofficeofsomeonewhohadmarriedagainandwhosecurrentandformerspousewasstillaliveorwhowasmarriedtosomeonewhosespousefromaformermarriagewasstillalive.16.Thestatementwentontosaythatinsuchcircumstancesbeforesomeonecouldbeconsideredforanepiscopalappointmentthearchbishopoftheprovinceinwhichtheclergymanwasservingwouldwanttosatisfyhimself,onthebasisofenquiriescarriedoutbytherelevantdiocesanbishop,thatthemaritalhistorydidnot,inthe
Ilghtof
allthecircumstancbs,constituteanobstacletoepiscopalappointment.These
,
2
 
enquirieswillbemadebeforeacandidatecomestobeconsideredforadiocesanorsuffraganbishopappointment.17.Thestatementcontinued:
'thefac:thatsomeoneinthissituationhasbeenaddedto.the.prefermentlistdoesnotmeanthattheCNCorthediocesanbishopandthoseadvisinghiminrelationtoaslljJraganappointmentareprecludedthereafterfromtakingthemarlta}historyintoaccountwhenconsideringhissuitabilityforaparticularoffice.Asnotedaboveinrelationtoparochialappointments,thosewiththerelevantresponsibilitypreentitledtoreachajudgementonwhethermaritalhistorymightproveanobstaclegiventhestronglyheldreligiousconvictionsofasignificantnumberofthosetowhomthepersonwouldbeministering'.
18.
Thestatementadded:
'bishopsarerequiredtobeafocusforunityandadiocesanbishopisthechiefpastorofallthatarewithinhisdiocese.ThoseselectedfordiocesanorsuffraganrolesareexpectedtobeanexampletothepeopleofGod.MaritalhistoryisoneofmanyconsiderationswhichmayproperlybetakenintoaccountindiscerningwhoGodiscallingtosuchofficeinHisChurch'.
Homosexualityand
CivilPartnership
19.Aperson'ssexualorientationis,initself,irrelevanttotheirsuitabilityforepiscopalofficeorindeedordainedministrymoregenerally.
It
would,
therefore,
bewrongif,duringaeNCoraselectionprocessforasuffragansee,accountweretakenofthefactthatacandidatehadidentifiedhimselfasofgaysexualorientation.
20.
Asamatteroflaw,however,theActallowsChurchesandreligiousorganisationstoimposearequirement.thatsomeoneshouldnotbeinacivilpartnershiporimposearequirementrelatedtosexualorientationwhere'
becauseofthenatureorcontext
of
the[office].therequirementisappliedsoastoavoidconflictingwiththestronglyheldreligiousconvictionsofasignificantnumberofthereligion'sfollowers'.
21.
TheChurchofEngland'steachinginrelationtosame-sexrelationsand,morerecently,civilpartnershipscanbefoundintheGeneralSynodmotionof1987,theHouseofBishops'teachingstatementof1991,
IssuesinHumanSexuality,
Resolution
1.10
oftheLambethConference1998,andtheHouseofBishops'PastoralStatementof2005onCivilPartnerships.Thesemake
it
clearthatsomeone
in
asexuallyactiverelationshipoutsidemarriageisnoteligiblefortheepiscopateorotherordainedministry.
22.
Thereis,bycontrast,nocorrespondingstatementofthepositionoftheChurchofEnglandthatdeclaresthatacelibatepersoninacivilpartnershipcannotbeconsideredforappointmentasabishop.23.Inparticular,theHouseofBishops'statement
0[2005
did.notaddressthisquestion.
It
notedthattheHousesaw
'nothingincompatiblebetweenHolyOrdersandenteringintoacivilpartnership,wherethepersonconcernedisWillingtogiveassurancestohisorherbishopthattherelationship
is
consistentwiththestandardsfortheclergysetoutinIssuesinHumanSexuality:'
Thereferencetoassurancestothebishopimplies,however,thatwhenmakingthatstatementtheHousewasaddressingthe
positionofdeaconsandpriestsalone.
3

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