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British bishops ban discrimination against gays, co-habitors

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have determined that gays and cohabiting couples can no longer be denied employment by the Church.

Catholic World News reports that the decree is included in a new set of guidelines issued by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, which they said they hope will help "create a more just society."

The Policy Statement and Guidelines on Diversity and Equality published on Monday states that "Catholic organisations must ensure that no job applicant or employee receives less favorable treatment than another on the grounds of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or age."

It calls on "Catholic bodies" to "publicly acknowledge their respect for diversity and commitment to equality."

The statement adds that "the Catholic community includes people of heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual orientation" and that "people of all sexual orientations have a right to take a full and active part in the life of the Catholic community."

Of those living in irregular unions, that is heterosexual couples cohabiting together, it says that we live in "a society in which relationships are increasingly fractured and complicated" and that "it is only to be expected that this may at times be reflected in the lifestyles of those who serve the Church."

In his foreword to the document, Archbishop Peter Smith, Chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, says: "The Guidelines provide a framework of principles rooted in Catholic teaching. From a legal perspective they are as accurate as possible at publication in January 2005, but they are not a substitute for taking legal advice or for Catholic organizations adopting and implementing their own specific policies, appropriate to their size and nature."

British bishops ban discrimination against gays, co-habitors (Catholic World News 7/2/05)

Catholic Church in England and Wales | Diversity and Equality Guidelines | Guidelines pdf download

9 Feb 2005