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May 10, 2006

Ruth Kelly

Ooooh! She’s a Catholic! Burn her, burn her!

RUTH KELLY, a member of the secretive conservative Opus Dei sect, was last night resisting pressure to give up the post of Equality Minister after refusing to deny that homosexuality was a sin.

A devout Roman Catholic, she also pointedly declined to endorse same-sex civil partnerships and adoptions by gay couples, which were backed overwhelmingly by Labour MPs.

The Times reported yesterday that Ms Kelly, 38, had been absent from every important vote on homosexual equality since Labour came to power in 1997.

As a member of Opus Dei, the inspiration for Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, Ms Kelly is required to extend the “holiness” of the sect’s beliefs into her working life. Opus Dei regards practising homosexuals as serious sinners.

John Denham, the Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs select committee, said: “It is obvious that the introduction of civil partnerships for gay people was one of the most significant and positive things this Government has done. It is essential that any minister with responsibility for these issues feels comfortable with that agenda.”

Asked if she regarded homosexuality as a sin, Ms Kelly declined to say. She said: “Is it possible to be a practising Catholic and hold a portfolio in government. The answer is yes. Why? Because I am collectively responsible for Cabinet decisions, I firmly believe in equality and that everyone should be free of discrimination and I will fight to the end to make sure that’s the case. I think everyone in society should be given the opportunity to fulfil their potential .” When asked the question again, she said: “I don’t think it’s right for politicians to start making moral judgments about people, it’s the last thing I want to do or want to get into.” Pressed on BBC Radio 5 Live about her voting record, she said: “Everybody is entitled to express their views in free votes on matters of conscience.”

It’s entirely possible to believe that homosexual actions are sinful and also to insist that there should be no legal discrimination against (or in favour) of people who undertake such actions. Just as it is entirely possible to believe that adultery is sinful, but that there should be no legal impediments to doing so, nor punishment for having done so.

After all, if it is necessary to be a Minister to believe that either (or both) of these acts are not sinful then we can never again have a Minister who is a practising Catholic, Jew or Muslim. (Anglicans I leave out of this as I’m not quite sure what they believe any more, nor do most of their Bishops.)

Wouldn’t that be religious discrimination?

May 10, 2006 in Religion | Permalink


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I love that Denham has managed to be both smug and condescending: “It is obvious that the introduction of civil partnerships for gay people was one of the most significant and positive things this Government has done."

...That is of course unless you believe in equality (why not call it marriage, you lily-livered bolsheviks?), in homosexuality as a social problem or sin that the state should not validate (not me, but people have opinions), believe that crypto-marriage is a way of separating good gayness from threatening, unmarried gayness, and imposing a norm of normality onto homosexuals that will ultimately prevent them from being regarded as a distinctive and equally valid group (possibly, but not something many homosexuals, I suspect, let alone a heterosexual stay up at night worrying about), or believe that family law in general needs to be reformed so that all people who live together in a permanent household can enjoy the various benefits of marriage whether they are two in number, or sleep together, or not.

Posted by: Marcin Tustin | May 10, 2006 10:41:41 AM

Come on, Tim, it was largely Catholics who did the burning. Unless you're implying that she's a witch, in which case Protestants can join in too. But it does seem impolitic to send someone who happens to believe in one set of dogmas to a department that is presumably meant to ooze concern and compassion, and subscribe to a different set of dogmas. Anyway, how am I to keep her from building "affordable housing" in my back garden, eh?

Posted by: dearieme | May 10, 2006 12:28:59 PM

Well according to Edmund Blackadder's fiercely puritan aunt, Lady Whiteadder: Cold is God's way of telling us to burn more catholics.


Posted by: The Remittance Man | May 10, 2006 12:46:54 PM

Script probably by some Papist conspirator, then. Anyway, never mind, she'll be Foreign Secretary next week, in all probability.

Posted by: dearieme | May 10, 2006 2:28:59 PM

"It’s entirely possible to believe that homosexual actions are sinful and also to insist that there should be no legal discrimination against (or in favour) of people who undertake such actions."

It is. Unfortunately, Kelly doesn't agree. She could have voted in favour of an equal age of consent and all the rest of it. Instead, she abstained in 12 votes as a "matter of conscience".

If she'd had her way, discriminatory laws would still be on the statute book. So she can't now claim to be anti-discrimination - it's an absurd inconsistency.

Posted by: Martin | May 10, 2006 3:29:05 PM

The woman doesn't believe in gay adoptions? Well, ove r on this side, there was a Southern Baptist - therefore private - adoption agency that would not place children in Catholic homes. Not in the best interests of the child. The only real issue anyone had with it was that this same agency was perfectly happy to solicit donations from Catholics (because the bigotry was no real surprise).

Posted by: Jim | May 10, 2006 10:42:35 PM


Wouldn't it be religious discrimination to say that it is not OK for a minister to be biassed against homosexuals, unless they are a catholic, in which case it is OK?

And anyway I take issue with your suggestion that only the homophobes of each faith are true believers. You are taking the wrong side in debates internal to other people's faiths.

Posted by: Joe Otten | May 11, 2006 12:49:02 AM


Actually, protestants were no slouches when it came to burning heretics either - apart from in Scotland, where they preferred hanging.

This is one of those things where the Catholic angle is better known and documented, thanks to the Spanish Inquisition and Torqemada - every good story needs a damn good villain - but the protestants, in Germany in particular, were just as bad if not worse.

Posted by: Unity | May 11, 2006 1:46:54 AM

Oh well, Germany.
I think the "catholic angle" might be better known hereabouts because of Bloody Mary. Just a suggestion. And the Scottish reformation was remarkably unbloody: the "Killing Times" came later, courtesy of those bloody Episcopalians. Who didn't burn, though, as far as I know.

Posted by: dearieme | May 11, 2006 10:25:21 AM