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Thursday, 18 June 2009

If you act gay, get another job

It’s not hard to find at least one subject Islam and Christianity agree on: it’s called being gay.

We see an example of it in Holland at the moment, where, in a row over whether superstition-based schools should be able to sack teachers just for being gay, a representative of Islamic Schools, Yusuf Altuntas, has said “Judaism, Christianity and Islam disapprove of acting gay [. . .] If that is what you are, apply at a different school”.

“The Council of State – the highest advisory body in the Netherlands – was consulted by the ruling coalition on whether religious schools should be allowed to exclude gay teachers,” writes Robert Pigott, the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent, in the story linked to above.

“Now its advice has been leaked, and has raised questions about how far the rights of religious schools should be extended.”

Article One of the Dutch constitution says that “all persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.”

On “any other grounds whatsoever”? Sounds a bit all-embracing. They wouldn’t discriminate against an axe murderer?

Anyway, Dutch law, it seems, currently says that even schools that treat the Bible as their foundation are not allowed to discriminate against a teacher for the “single fact” of her sexual orientation.

“But the Council of State suggests that the single-fact provision should be scrapped,” says Pigott, “and says religious schools may exclude homosexual teachers whose behaviour violates the school’s values, even if it takes place in their private life.”

Whether religious or not, schools are employers, and employers should all have to work under the same equality laws. Anything else is just pandering to bigoted, discriminatory, not to say Dark Ages, attitudes.

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