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04/19/2007


Stephen Fry and Tony Blair Chat About Little Britain

Tony Blair talked with openly gay actor and comedian Stephen Fry in a podcast posted on the #10 Downing Street website. In the interview, the two reflect on the state of modern Britain and Fry thanks Blair for his work on gay rights. Blair also gives an idea on how he feels he's positioned in terms of his values:

Blairfry"I think if you were looking for a sort of more mature consensus about issues to do with liberty and freedom today, I mean I think there is a particular type of political philosophy, and this is where I am as it were, which is I would be very liberal on say gay rights, you know the equality agenda, ending discrimination against people for whatever reason, but probably less liberal than a previous Labour generation would have been on law and order issues, or antisocial behaviour, you know people who commit violent crime and so on. What is quite interesting is that in the '60s you would have had a consensus which was a sort of gathering liberal consensus in both spheres, both in terms of personal lifestyle, you know the sexual revolution and all the rest of it, and in relation to you know traditional civil liberties arguments in the criminal justice system. I think what is interesting today is that it is what I sometimes call for shorthand a sort of pro-gay rights, tough on law and order position, which I think is something different from what you would have had a generation ago."

You can view the transcript and download the podcast here...

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Blair: Catholic Adoption Agencies Can't Discriminate Against Gays

In a decision that ends weeks of debate over the issue, Tony Blair has announced that there will be no exemptions for Catholic Adoption Agencies from anti-discrimination laws which the church has said would force them to act against their members' conscience and religious teachings. In what he calls a "sensible compromise", Blair has offered the church a 21-month window (until the end of 2008) during which time they must comply with the law or lose public funding. Until that time, the Catholic agencies have a "statutory duty" to refer same-sex couples to other agencies.

CatholicSaid Blair: "I believe we have now found a way through that achieves this and which all reasonable people will be able to support. I start from a very firm foundation: there is no place in our society for discrimination. That is why I support the right of gay couples to apply to adopt like any other couple. ...There can be no exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies offering publicly-funded services from regulations which prevent discrimination. [There will be] a transition period before these regulations come fully into force at the end of 2008 for existing adoption agencies. This will be coupled, during this period, with a statutory duty for any adoption agency which does not process applications from same sex couples to refer them to another agency."

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who leads the church in Wales and England, responded to Blair's directive: "We are, of course, deeply disappointed that no exemption will be granted to our agencies on the grounds of widely held religious conviction and conscience. We look to the forthcoming parliamentary debate to address some of the fundamental issues centred on the wellbeing of the child, whose needs must always be put first. We note and welcome, however, the government's expressed desire that the experience and excellent work of our agencies is not lost, especially for the benefit of needy children."

Ben Summerskill, head of gay activist group Stonewall, lauded the decision: "We are delighted that so many ministers have listened to the representations we made and acknowledge that there should be an as wide as possible pool of adopted parents. This is a triumph for 21st century tolerance over 19th century prejudice."

No exemption from gay rights law [bbc]
Catholic agencies given deadline to comply on same-sex adoptions [guardian]


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