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Religion, Sexual Orientation and the Equality Act 2010: Gay Bishops in the Church of England Negotiating Rights Against Discrimination

Clucas, Rob



A sophisticated understanding of human rights must look at ways in which conflicts between competing rights are negotiated. This article undertakes a case study of the interrelationship of rights related to religion and sexuality in societies, in the context of inequality between heterosexual and homosexual persons. It analyses recent Church of England guidance on appointing bishops in relation to the Equality Act 2010 and its religious exemptions to non-discrimination provisions. I investigate whether formal Church teaching and the guidance owe more to heteronormativity than the purely scriptural mandate that is claimed. I argue that the Equality Act’s preference for religion rights over sexuality rights in the discrimination exemptions for organised religions, and the Act’s understanding of what counts as a religious conviction, are better understood as a de-prioritisation of sexuality rights that reflects the prevailing structural inequalities of heteronormative secular and religious social worlds.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 29, 2012
Online Publication Date Oct 12, 2012
Publication Date 2012-10
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2022
Journal Sociology
Print ISSN 0038-0385
Electronic ISSN 1469-8684
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 5
Pages 936-950
Keywords Church of England, competing rights, Equality Act 2010, gay bishops, heteronormativity, homosexuality, human rights
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