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There's been a lot of weird, unsettling news from the U.K. lately. Case in point: the recent decision to ban British schoolkids from having best friends for starters.

But that's the main reason not why I'm making this topic. The main reason for this thread is that lately, our friends across the Atlantic have been a batshit crazy of the politically correct, multiculturalism vibe.

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Is political correctness running amuck in Great Britain?

Officials have decided to forbid British schoolchildren from having best friends. The government says it will back a ban on employees wearing crucifixes or any other Christian symbol. A court says UK churches will be forced to marry homosexual couples regardless of church law.


Here's a more in-depth look at the whole banning of wearing Crucifixes at work debacle, courtesy of the Telegraph.

Now, I may not be the most dedicated Christian in the world, but I'm pretty sure that wearing a cross/Crucifix isn't a required article of the Christian faith. From what I understand, one of the women is a British Airways worker and got suspended because she wouldn't take off her cross since it supposedly violated the uniform code. I guess I can understand the dress code bit (probably put crosses under the necklace category).

The other woman was a nurse who got barred from working on wards because she refused to hide the cross she had on a necklace chain. I can sort of understand British Airway's logic, but I'd like to know the reasoning of Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, her former employer.

Next up is a ruling that, while not from the U.K. itself, is still rather baffling.
Quote:

....
Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling that, should same-sex marriage be legalized in the UK, British churches will have to marry homosexual couples regardless of their convictions – and they will not be protected by proposed British laws guaranteeing protections in matters of faith and conscience.

The British government has announced it intends to legalize same-sex marriage by 2015, according to the advocacy group Christian Concern. Churches have been assured they will not be required to conduct such ceremonies. However, such promises are worthless, said the European Court when ruling in a French case. The court’s rulings supercede British law because the UK is part of the European Union.

The court ruled in the French case that same-sex marriage is not a human right, but depends on local law. The European Court rules on disputes arising from the European Convention on Human Rights which was incorporated into UK law in the Human Rights Act 1998.

The ruling came as a result of a case involving a French lesbian couple who complained that France would not allow them to adopt a child. The court ruled that, because the couple were civil partners, they did not have the rights of married people, who in France have the sole right to adopt a child as a couple.

However, that could change, explained the court’s specialist in discrimination law, Neil Addison: “Once same-sex marriage has been legalized then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage. This means that if same-sex marriage is legalized in the UK it will be illegal for the government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.”
....
(text is from the first link)


Now, in case some of us in the ED-P weren't already aware, the U.K. is considering deciding how to legalize same-sex marriage before election time in 2015, but let's save that for its own thread.

Now this got the Roman Catholic Church (and probably other denominations as well) up in arms about the usual issues, particularly the major one concerning whether or not churches will have to perform religious services for marrying same-sex couples. The consultation paper from the Home Office that the current legal ban on same-sex marriage happening in a religious service will remain in place seemed to momentarily quell all that religious outrage (for the moment anyway).

And now the ECHR comes out and says that any church that refuses to perform same-sex marriage will be guilty of discrimination. Which is interesting, considering that the ECHR just ruled that gay marriage is not a human right.
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‘The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage.’

...

Neil Addison, a specialist in discrimination law, said: ‘Once same-sex marriage has been legalised then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage.

This means that if same-sex marriage is legalised in the UK it will be illegal for the Government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.'


On top of that, 78% of English think that gay marriage shouldn't be fast-tracked like this over other issues like the economy or public-service reform.

*sigh* Why do people get so damn worked up about one stupid word? Just give everyone, homo and hetero, a civil union, which has all the legal rights as marriage does now! And leave the concepts of "marriage" and "wedding" as social events which may or may not have a religious flavor.

And for ******** sake, give the churches/synagogues/mosques/place of worship the right to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony on religious grounds.

....

Whew.

So, am I the only one seeing the UK acting a little bit...... strange? (No offense to the ED-Pers of the UK, but your government is acting weird).
Heimdalr's avatar

Mega Noob

I like the British political system as the honest cesspool of humanity that it is. Perhaps it has grown too large, but it is still a forum for actual opinions on important matters, when it counts. What I don't like is the focus on smaller issues that by all definitions should be sorted out before the dawn of universal stagnation in political discourse, like we have seen in certain republics as of late.
The main issue here seems to be that you're taking your news from crappy biased sources. The Mail and "Beliefnet"? The telegraph is bad enough!

I can find nothing at all that amounts to banning kids from having best friends, nor anything that would easily be misinterpreted in such a way.

The people suing for the right to wear crosses is another case of the religious looking for the right to ignore the normal rules of society whenever they feel like it. If your work place bans the wearing of jewellery, then you can't wear jewellery or ask for an exception because it's religiously themed jewellery.

And do you really need to guess at the reasoning for banning jewellery from nurses? They're a vector for infections!

The gay marriage one is a non-issue as well. Simply, at the moment priests and other religious groups are permitted to act as extensions of the state in signing the marriage certificates. The ECHR has pointed out that if they are acting in this manner and refuse to officiate over a legal request for marriage that amounts to state discrimination against couples, which is illegal. Simple to fix, require all marriages be recognised officially by a proper registrar and have the wedding ceremony be a purely religious and non-binding action.

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Why do people get so damn worked up about one stupid word? Just give everyone, homo and hetero, a civil union, which has all the legal rights as marriage does now! And leave the concepts of "marriage" and "wedding" as social events which may or may not have a religious flavor.

If it's just "one stupid word" why not simply give everyone the right to marry a boy or girl as they please, and leave the religious wedding ceremony for whoever wants it.
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Now this got the Roman Catholic Church (and probably other denominations as well) up in arms about the usual issues,


Why name the Roman Catholic Church over the Church of England?

You know the denomination what (politically) matters.


I would like to meet the same sex couples who would want to marry in a CoE churches.
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The gay marriage one is a non-issue as well. Simply, at the moment priests and other religious groups are permitted to act as extensions of the state in signing the marriage certificates. The ECHR has pointed out that if they are acting in this manner and refuse to officiate over a legal request for marriage that amounts to state discrimination against couples, which is illegal. Simple to fix, require all marriages be recognised officially by a proper registrar and have the wedding ceremony be a purely religious and non-binding action.
Easier still; ignore the ECHR, mandate registrars to marry impartially but allow the Church to use its own discretion.
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Im dismayed at that Beliefnet article quoting the likes of "Red Ken" as though he's in some way representative of the UK establishment. He's not, hes a total kook, much like George Galloway ,and again like George Galloway, he has to appeal to certain deprived areas of the Muslim community to get elected, by making sometimes outrageous, other time just bizarre, anti-semitic and pro-Islamic comments. Both figures are marginalised by white society by and large.
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There I was thinking this was going to be about the cash for access or the (entirely self-inflicted) fuel shortage panics. Or perhaps the entirely empty-headed Laffer voodoo budget that needed multiple PR distractions to get the press talking about something else.

This stuff? Bah.
*reads replies*

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*headdesk* That's what I get for basing my theories on an article from a religiously biased site...

But in my defense, I did not realize that the DailyMail and Telegraph are apparently the Brit's equivalent of Fox News.
Ban's avatar

Jeering Regular

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I can find nothing at all that amounts to banning kids from having best friends, nor anything that would easily be misinterpreted in such a way.
No? It's been getting around, admittedly with more play in the conservative media. I think the Sun ran the story first.[1] It doesn't appear to be an official government policy, just something some schools are doing.
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The gay marriage one is a non-issue as well. Simply, at the moment priests and other religious groups are permitted to act as extensions of the state in signing the marriage certificates. The ECHR has pointed out that if they are acting in this manner and refuse to officiate over a legal request for marriage that amounts to state discrimination against couples, which is illegal. Simple to fix, require all marriages be recognised officially by a proper registrar and have the wedding ceremony be a purely religious and non-binding action.
Easier still; ignore the ECHR, mandate registrars to marry impartially but allow the Church to use its own discretion.
Well, that's a bit difficult. They've signed a treaty, and there's been an enabling act. Assuming this ruling isn't merely an advisory opinion, it has the force of law in the UK. If the UK failed to act in accordance with the European Convention, they could be sued by any other contracting state and made to pay damages until they complied.
Quote:
Now, I may not be the most dedicated Christian in the world, but I'm pretty sure that wearing a cross/Crucifix isn't a required article of the Christian faith. From what I understand, one of the women is a British Airways worker and got suspended because she wouldn't take off her cross since it supposedly violated the uniform code. I guess I can understand the dress code bit (probably put crosses under the necklace category).
That's somewhat old news but you very often get s**t like this. Managers, etc taking health and safety to an extreme; partially out of fear that they haven't cracked down for it hard enough.

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But in my defense, I did not realize that the DailyMail and Telegraph are apparently the Brit's equivalent of Fox News.
This (satirical yet actually on key) piece may help.
Although in all seriousness - the Mail and Telegraph are particularly reactionary papers. The former being, accusably, more tabloid than broadsheet as a paper. The ones that come to mind to recommend as saner publications tend to be the ones that do poorly (because les gens, ils sont des crétins!) like the Times, the Guardian and/or the Independant.
Sadly; the Times has a paywall so observers of the UK have the choice of left-wing idealisms or the insane right wing.

As to gay marriage - it has to be noted that the Conservative party has an obsession with not being seen as "nasty" (which they accuse of poor public perception early '90s). It's thus an attempt to pander to the perspective gay people should have them (despite as mentioned; civil partnerships tend to actually be useful for rights provisions here). It seems somewhat redundant given the increasing lack of people using a church for marriage but ho hum. However, people get worked up over marriage (despite such things often being non-religious and in a registration office more and more often) because...ummm....Tradition?

As to the ECHR (European court of human rights); I'd note the article is being really liberal with interpretation of a ruling on adoption where the court claimed the sexuality hadn't been an issue.

A Lost Iguana
There I was thinking this was going to be about the cash for access or the (entirely self-inflicted) fuel shortage panics. Or perhaps the entirely empty-headed Laffer voodoo budget that needed multiple PR distractions to get the press talking about something else.
Maybe I'm a cynic but with cash-for-access, can't you help feeling it's a bit old hat? It happened under the previous government and I'm fairly sure the one before it and before that and...It just seems like a report for the sake thereof.
The problem is that reports on clamping down on it is usually followed by the eponymous demand to cap individual and union donations whilst increasing state donations. Which just makes the state itself powerful in a really...uncomfortable way.
Even if the fuel strikes have had an a**-hatted handling (and it seems worse that the papers were so insistent on talking about the "Granny tax" - or is an explanation needed on how it's actually merited?).
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Well, that's a bit difficult. They've signed a treaty, and there's been an enabling act. Assuming this ruling isn't merely an advisory opinion, it has the force of law in the UK. If the UK failed to act in accordance with the European Convention, they could be sued by any other contracting state and made to pay damages until they complied.
I'm wary of going out on a limb here because I don't have any training in international law, however, certain pundits have been commenting on the ECHR recently in respect to another, and dare I say more important case, where Britain is trying to extradite a certain "hate preacher" to Jordan. THE ECHR ordered us not to due to the danger that evidence used against him may have been obtained through torture and he might therefore not receive a fair trial. A fair trial is a right under Article 6 of the Convention.

The point was made that we could just leave the convention or ignore the ruling as apparently France and Italy have both done in the past, in similar circumstances, with little to no consequence. The pundit in question also writes a column for the Spectator and discusses the same case link.

The question is, if you fine a country for non complaince or some such, how do you actually enforce it?

From what I can tell the ECHR is completely seperate from the EU and our obligations as an EU member state. We can leave one without the other.
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The question is, if you fine a country for non complaince or some such, how do you actually enforce it?

From what I can tell the ECHR is completely seperate from the EU and our obligations as an EU member state. We can leave one without the other.


The only other nations in Europe who is not under the ECHR is the "Republic" of Belarus
what is is under a brutal, authoritarian dictatorship that blatantly ignores human rights and fundamental freedoms.

and Vatican City (being an theocracy and all)

They are also not in the Council of Europe

it's enforced by nations wanting to remain a party to the Convention.

and obviously leaving (or being forced out of ) a/the Convention about human rights does not make you sound that nice internationally.
Ban's avatar

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The question is, if you fine a country for non complaince or some such, how do you actually enforce it?
Well, as said, the judgments have the force of the law in the UK. The monitoring of fines for non-compliance is overseen by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. While non-compliance has no immediate effect, the judgments are theoretically binding in UK courts, as the treaty giving the ECHR jurisdiction is law, ratified by parliament and signed by royal prerogative. Moreover, consistent non-compliance could be seen as a violation of Article 2 of the TEU.

It's not as powerful as the judgments of the WTO, but is one of the more well-regulated sources of international law.

Camera Stellata
From what I can tell the ECHR is completely seperate from the EU and our obligations as an EU member state. We can leave one without the other.
The European Court of Human Rights is technically a function of the Council of Europe (not to be confused with the European Council or the Council of the European Union) and was formed under the auspices of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Signing the Convention is one of the membership requirements of the European Union. Withdrawing from the Court's jurisdiction would basically be a violation of the obligations of the Convention and could lead to the UK getting suspended under the Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union.
Comrade Kotka's avatar

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On top of that, 78% of English think that gay marriage shouldn't be fast-tracked like this over other issues like the economy or public-service reform.


Haha, it is indeed a nice distraction from an unpopular restructuring of the NHS, the budget etc... but I find that poll hard to believe (and not just because it's in the Torygraph). I could be wrong, of course. It's just less of a big deal because civil partnerships were introduced under Blair that are essentially marriage in all but name... well, it's a big deal for churches it would seem, but I'm not sure about the wider public.

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