Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly has been accused of double standards and urged to resign this week by a number of faith-based and other groups.
It has been reported that Kelly is a member of the Roman Catholic institution, Opus Dei, and she is being accused of placing the concerns of the Pope before those of British citizens.
The Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Association (GLHA), who expressed concerns upon her new appointment as Communities Secretary earlier this year, are calling for Kelly’s resignation.
Ruth Kelly, has repeatedly claimed that ‘everyone should be protected from discrimination’. Reports however suggest that she has shelved plans to legislate to make it illegal for organisations and businesses to deny services to gays and lesbians, or will at least offer ‘opt outs’ from the legislation for some groups.
The GLHA point out that Ruth Kelly has strategically missed voting on ethical issues such as sexuality and family life. George Broadhead, of the GLHA said, “The Vatican’s reaction to civil partnerships and gay marriage has been nothing short of hysterical”; upholding the view of his organisation that Kelly’s commitment to the Papacy contravenes her commitment to the State.
The University and College Union (UCU) have also said that she should resign if she continues to obstruct equal rights for gays and lesbians.
Lib Dem Equality spokeswoman Lorely Burt has also called on Ms Kelly to stand down immediately.
Ms Burt said: "The Government must not water down these proposals. We had always feared that Ruth Kelly’s personal beliefs would make her unsuitable to be a champion of gay rights.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government however denied that the department was blocking regulations.
"We are absolutely committed to bringing forward proposals that provide effective protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The delay is purely a result of the huge response to the consultation with over 3,000 responses received.
"This is a complex area so it is only right that we take the time to consider them fully and carefully to make sure our proposals are workable and provide effective protection from discrimination."
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) however is also weighing in with claims that Ruth Kelly has a “blinkered anti-Muslim vision”.
Ruth Kelly in her keynote speech to representatives of the Muslim community this week talked of, “non-negotiable values” and the “respect for the law, freedom of speech”. However, she went on to implicitly tie government funding to state-sanctioned Muslim perspectives.
Although she stressed that she is not “anti-Muslim overall” many in the MCB has taken her comments as a straightjacket on Muslim opinion and an example of religious discrimination from this ultra-conservative MP.
In his open letter, Dr Abdul Bari, Secretary General of MCB, warns Kelly against a “vindictive and punitive” use of government funding. He goes on to suggest that the government is illicitly supporting “new sectarian Muslim bodies with barely concealed links to US Neo-cons”.
Opus Dei was founded by Saint Josemaría Escrivá. Its mission is to help people turn their work and daily activities into occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society.