British Christians Protest Gay Rights

By THOMAS WAGNER
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 9, 2007; 6:49 PM

LONDON -- Christian activists submitted a petition to Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday protesting a gay rights law that they contend will force them to promote and condone gay sex.

The activists, who said such laws violate Biblical teaching, held a candlelit vigil outside Parliament as the House of Lords debated the new law Tuesday night. The body voted 199-68 against a motion calling for the regulation to be scrapped.

The section of the Equality Act 2006 banning businesses from discriminating against gay people in the provision of goods and services took effect in Northern Ireland on Jan. 1 and is scheduled to be introduced in England, Wales and Scotland in April.

In March, Britain's High Court will hear an attempt by a Christian group, the Christian Institute, to overturn the legislation.

Andrea Minichello Williams, a protest organizer, said the petition submitted to Buckingham Palace was signed by 10,000 Christians and urged the monarch to use her "power and position" to demand that the government protect the freedom of Christians to live according to the Bible's teaching.

The queen is the titular head of state in Britain and supreme governor of the Church of England, but she has no binding powers on either front.

"The regulations will force Christians to facilitate and encourage the practice of homosexual relationships and will force them to support the view that homosexual relationships are equivalent in worth and moral standing to heterosexual relationships," said a copy of the petition provided to The Associated Press.

The law makes it a crime for hotels and other businesses to refuse to rent rooms to homosexuals and for churches to deny use of their halls for civil union ceremonies for gay couples. Gay business owners are barred from deny services to heterosexual couples.

Some black churches have said pastors and churchgoers will go to jail rather than open their meeting halls to gay groups. Roman Catholic adoption agencies have said they fear they may be forced to allow gay couples to adopt.


© 2007 The Associated Press