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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Religious Freedom "Article 18: an orphaned right"

Great to attend the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Religious Freedom today at the House of Lords and to receive their first report "Article 18: an orphaned right".

The report highlights the increasing frequency of attacks and discrimination against minorities because of their religion or belief..

It was a surprisingly large audience for an 8.30am start and very diverse. Lots of opportunities to talk. Among issues raised in personal discussions were the plight of Christian and other minorities in Iran - including the prospects raised by the recent Presidential Election - and the "extremist" elements of South Asian Buddhism (as highlighted in the cover story of this week's "Time" magazine).

It was pleasing to hear that the group is committed to supporting all minorities, and not simply advocate on behalf of Christian groups, and is also concerned about people holding non-faith views who also face attacks and discrimination. Good to talk to Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Association and Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society.

I am arranging to meet the Secretariat of the Group early in July to see how we can work together and hopefully involve the International Association of Religious Freedom.

I also took the opportunity to pop out onto the terrace and enjoy the view of the Thames!
Derek on the Terrace

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Further step forward for Same Sex Marriage

Unitarians will welcome the support given by an overwhelming majority to the Same Sex Marriage Bill in the House of Lords.allowing it to proceed to the next stage of the legislative process 

We have long argued for the equal validity of same sex relationships and looked forward to a time when we might recognise legally and celebrate them in our churches and chapels. It is a great joy that we are now a step closer to achieving this. I am confident that the legislation will be passed by Parliament over the next few months.

There are of course still battles ahead and there is no room for complacency. The attitudes of some of those opposing the Bill are to be regretted and there remains much work to do to ensure that the rights of gay and lesbian couples are protected.   

We are pleased that the support for this legislation of a number of liberal religious bodies has ensured that this has not become a polarised debate between the secular and the religious worlds. We look forward to engaging in ongoing discussions with other faith groups on our interpretation of marriage in the spirit of ongoing learning”

5 June 1013

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Hope Not Hate against Extremism

I am pleased to join Eddie Izzard, and other celebrities, Labour Leader Ed Milliband and other politicians, trade unionists and faith leaders to sign a letter condemning right wing extremism published in today's Daily Mirror. Over 35,000 people have now signed. It is rightly headed "We are the many". Hope not hate will triumph in the battle against extremists who are attempting to use the death of Lee Rigby for their own ends.