NI Review Of Gay Rights Law Opens

Religious organisations in Northern Ireland “need to know where they stand with the law” following the introduction of new ‘gay rights’ legislation, Belfast’s High Court was told yesterday.

A judicial review taken by the Christian Institute – acting on behalf of numerous church organisations – was opened in Belfast yesterday after leave was granted to appeal against Government legislation that came into effect here at the start of the year.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations were introduced by Secretary of State Peter Hain and have banned discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the provision of goods, services and education.

However, the Christian organisations challenging the legislation argue the new law is a blatant infringement of religious liberties which could be used to override the beliefs of its members. They also argue the consultation process was both flawed and rushed through. The consultation period in Northern Ireland lasted for just over six weeks while the same process lasted six months in the rest of the UK.

The review is due to end tomorrow when judgement is expected to be reserved until a later date.