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The Government says its new Equality Bill will force churches to accept practising homosexuals or transsexuals in youth worker posts and other similar roles.
Equalities minister Maria Eagle said religious believers should push ‘gay rights’ in their communities, but in the meantime the state would do it.
The move has been met with a strong response from Christian groups who have accused the Government of secular intolerance against the church.
The Bill dramatically narrows exemptions in sexual orientation employment laws which protect the religious liberty of churches and other faith groups.
Under the current law, religious groups can restrict certain posts to heterosexuals as long as those posts are for the purposes of organised religion, which could include jobs like a youth worker.
But under the Equality Bill the Government is specifying that this protection can only apply posts that mainly involve leading worship or explaining doctrine.
The Bill’s explanatory notes make it clear that this protection “would not apply to a requirement that a church youth worker or accountant be heterosexual”.