Sexual Orientation Equality and Religious Exceptionalism in the Law of the United Kingdom: The Role of the Church of England

Paul James Johnson, Robert M Vanderbeck

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There is a growing literature that addresses the appropriateness and merits of including exceptions in law to accommodate faith-based objections to homosexuality. However, what has rarely been considered and, as a consequence, what is generally not understood, is how such religious exceptions come to exist in law. This article provides a detailed analysis of the contribution of the Church of England to ensuring the inclusion of religious exceptions in United Kingdom legislation designed to promote equality on the grounds of sexual orientation. Drawing on a case study that traces the life of one piece of anti-discrimination legislation, the article documents the multi-faceted approach of the Church of England to seeking, securing and shaping religious exceptions in law. The analysis contributes to broader debates about the role of the Church of England in Parliament and the extent to which the United Kingdom, as a liberal democracy, should continue to accommodate the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality in statute law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-522
Number of pages24
JournalOxford Journal of Law and Religion
Issue number3
Early online date9 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Oct 2017

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