Episode 2 The Big Questions


Episode 2

Nicky Campbell presides over a special debate recorded at Queen Mary University of London, asking just one question - should human rights always outweigh religious rights?


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Transcript


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Today on The Big Questions: human rights versus religious rights -

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which should prevail? Good morning. I'm Nicky Campbell.

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Welcome to The Big Questions. Well, we're back at Queen Mary University

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of London in Tower Hamlets to debate one very Big Question: Should human

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rights always outweigh religious rights? Welcome everyone here to The

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Big Questions. Should gay couples be allowed to marry or form families?

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Should women be ordained as priests or consecrated as bishops, or be

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allowed to wear a veil or to be segregated from men? Should

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employees be allowed to refuse to work on the Sabbath or to wear a

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cross at work, or to refuse to handle alcohol or pork products? All

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of these questions weigh human rights in the balance against

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religious rights, and some of these disputes have ended up in the

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highest courts in Britain and Europe. So, we have assembled

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atheists, Schumann this, but others from many -- believers from many

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different faiths this morning. You can have your say on Twitter or

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online. Just log onto our website, where you will find things to

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continue our discussion online. There will be lots of contributions

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from our varied lively and well informed London audience. Should

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human rights always prevail over religious rights? Davis Mac-Iyalla,

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you are the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group Christians In

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Exile. You believe that human rights are universal. Explain why. Yes, I

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believe human rights are universal, and I also do believe that we should

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outweigh religious rights because most of the religious right that we

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talk about, love your neighbour as yourself, feed the hungry, they are

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all born out of natural human rights and needs. So if you follow what is

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human rights, you see very clearly that human rights should outweigh

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religious rights. Today, if you look at society, where we have problems

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in the context of human sexuality, you will find that religious people

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will want a special right for themselves, and the people who are

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discriminating other people who are persecuting. Human rights have no

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persecution or discrimination. Human rights provides for everybody and

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treats everybody equally. So wherever you are in the world, you

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should be able to vote, women should be able to drive, women should be

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able to be educated, there should be Gay marriage everywhere, the right

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to leave a religion - something we will come onto, I am sure. But

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should there not be, as others might say to you, respect for other

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religions, different cultures and different traditions? People who are

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religious, Christians and those faiths, can define themselves within

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their community. As far as I am concerned, any definition that you

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give yourself that excludes a section of that community... Let me

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use the Christian faith for example. Homosexuals have been part

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of the Christian faith from the beginning, and the church doctrine

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prevents them from marrying. Gay people cannot be priests, they

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cannot be bishops. Any community that excludes has lost a kind of

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respect. There is no human rights, there is no equality, there is no

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universally a la tea in such a community. People like me do not

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have respect. Reverend Betty King, how do you respond? Religion as a

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human right. We choose to worship God. So for you to say that human

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rights should be universal, we have a right to worship our God. We have

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a right to make our decision. In every religion, it is the moral

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conscience of the nation. So when we are worshipping, these laws are

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being made. Where you want to come in to tell a particular religious

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group what you -- to accept what you think is your right, I disagree with

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that. I have not seen, from Nigeria to the UK, where religious people,

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Christians or Muslims that I know of, have been forced to accept

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anything. What the society is saying to you is, live and let live. You

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want your right, you want to exist, you want to worship God the way you

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want, and you are telling other people that they don't have that

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right to be themselves. I will be with you in one second, Sahar.

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Attitudes have changed and evolved, and have progressed. We no longer

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burn witches, as I think Exodus tells us to do. We no longer think

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homosexuality is a disease. There are lots of things that we are

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transgressing from the Old Testament, that are now accepted.

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These may be seen by you as eternal truths, but the world has changed.

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It has, but human rights is about respecting another person. Being

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kind to another person. Understanding another person. Are

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you being kind to him if you disapprove of Davis marrying the

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person he wants to marry? Nobody is understanding what -- why he is

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doing what he is doing. It is his choice to be with a man or woman of

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the same gender. I don't have to believe his Troy says. It is my

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right, as a human being, to believe what I believe. This is a false

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stuck to me. Human rights initially evolved as a safeguard for the

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individual against the oppressive power of the state, and one of the

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basic fundamental human rights was the protection of religion, the

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right to practice your religion, to manifest your religion, to state

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your beliefs and conscience. Trying to make this dichotomy that you

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either choose religious rights of human rights, it is totally false.

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There is a grave danger that what we are actually doing is prioritising

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the sexual rights of a minority group. Let's not forget that

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homosexuals form 1.5% of the population. In prioritising sexual

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rights, we are in grave danger of overriding the traditional human

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rights, which is the freedom of religion. Surely minorities, whether

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they be the 1.5% of Christians in countries far away from here, or the

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1.5% of gay people in this country, surely it is minorities who needs

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their rights to be protected? Charlie is coming in. We have to

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talk about minorities. Sometimes I'm told that Jesus only had 12

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followers, so that is a relevant point to make. I do believe with

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Lynda not to separate human rights and religious right has a different

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thing. There is something called Article 9 on the European Convention

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on Human Rights that makes it very clear that everyone has a right to

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freedom of thought, conscience and religion. That is all beliefs.

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Article 9 makes it very clear that even though you can have whatever

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believes you want, when you manifest those beliefs, they can be

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restricted. It is a qualified right. Restricted in what way?

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Example, if you manifest your religion in such a way that

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infringes someone else's rights, it is right to restrict the right to

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manifest your religion. It is something like the B cases, or the

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Lady Lilian Ladele who went to Europe because she didn't want to

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perform a civil partnership for a gay couple. That's a very clear

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example of how her manifestation of her religion was quite clearly going

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to, and did in fact, in fringe someone else's right. That is what

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we are talking about. The question in the first place is based on the

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assumption that there was a conflict between human rights and religious

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rights, and that the reality is not true. Each case has to be dealt with

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individually. Everyone has the right to manifest what they truly and

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deeply believe. Let me mention that this does not mean, for the case of

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the B for example, that I will justify for myself to discriminate

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against them. From an Islamic point of view, a same-sex relationship is

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not permitted under Islamic. That is now agreed upon. It doesn't mean,

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for me, to project my belief into my action, allowing myself to

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discriminate against them. Human rights and religious rights are in a

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line, and there is no conflict. Do you understand the position of the

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evangelical couple who ran the bed breakfast, and then the gay couple

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turned up and they didn't want them staying, not just because they were

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gay, but because they didn't want unmarried people sharing a room.

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That is an important thing to say. I am speaking from the principle point

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of view. Even if I have this belief that is against a same-sex

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relationship, I wouldn't allow myself to discriminate against them.

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But each case has to be dealt with individually. I cannot generalise. I

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would like to deal with this question first. We have the veil ban

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in France, which is being fought at the moment in court. If that were to

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be brought in here, what impact would it have on your life? It would

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be terrifying for me, being a British active citizen within

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society, being a community organiser. Any such ban taking place

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in Britain means nothing but marginalising me and isolating me. I

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will not be able to contribute. Why not? Because you can't leave your

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home? Of course. I will be staying home, isolated, because the ban is

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there. It is against the basic religious belief that is protected

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by the human rights, that I have a right to manifest this in a public

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capacity. Why would it be so bad to show your face? Remind people why?

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It is an act of worship. I believe, for me, it is a way to strive and be

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closer to God. Each of us has different ways of striving to be

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closer to God in different ways. This is my way to be closer to him,

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to wear the veil, because it isn't act of worship. And it is also

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modesty. And I will be rewarded for it. This is what I believe. What do

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you believe in bout modesty? You can be modest without covering your

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face. This is my own manifestation. This is my own modesty. People can

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differ. Betti, presumably, you support human rights. I support what

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France is doing. I thought you supported religious rights? Only

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your own religious rights? Let me explain what I mean. I'm a

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Christian, she is a Muslim. Supporting the question of France

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banning women wearing burka, there is a reason for that. There are

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wonderful people that where a burka. Recently we found a terrorist going

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under a burka. When you were talking I didn't interrupted. Please let me

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explain. We found people hiding under the burka to cause an

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atrocity. In France, I believe that the nation of France goes and

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supports people that are fighting against one another. They go to

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these countries and, really, protect their human right. It doesn't matter

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what religion. It has happened, the Kenyan shopping mall, but that is to

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extrapolate from a small part of what we are talking about. They are

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trying to protect their citizens. David Lammy MP is looking rather

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frustrated. Why is this? I think we are in danger of asserting solely

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rights and not asserting the responsibility that goes with those

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rights. The point is, how do we live together? In this country, this is a

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pluralistic country in which there are lots of traditions and people.

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When I am sitting in my advice surgery, in Tottenham Townhall on a

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Friday evening, any one of my constituents can come and see me

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with a problem. It is not for me to say you cannot wear a niqab, in the

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same way that if somebody comes in with tattoos from their head down to

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their toes, they come in with the shortest miniskirt, I make no

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judgement at all with the advice that I offer and the support that I

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give to the individual. It seems to me that the state should not be

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engaged in that. You do make rules in relations to schools,

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courtrooms, pilots, where your religious belief can get in the

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way. But, as a responsible citizen, we have to be in a place where we

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support the rights and responsibilities of everyone. I

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totally agree. When it comes to security, I absolutely do not have

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any problem to take at off, whether it is in court, I have no problem.

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The issue is that it is clearly, clearly, this whole dilemma, it is

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targeting the Muslims and they are targeting the Muslim women wearing a

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veil, who are actually a minority. What about other religions? Yes, in

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just a second. Maajid Nawaz, from the Quilliam Foundation, a Muslim

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and also a secularist, it is fair to say? What do you think about this

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particular aspect? We have to strike a middle ground between what I would

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call the aggressive secularism of the French and aggressive Islam,

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forcing people to accept a certain interpretation of Islam. That middle

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ground I called British common sense. That means respecting the

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fact that people like Harmaner have the right to wear the veil. It also

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entails the responsibilities that they've just mentioned. That means

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as well as being liberal, choosing what we do with our own bodies,

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human rights mean that we have to respect others in their choices

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about what people do with their bodies. That is the relationship

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between liberalism and human rights. So, if we apply that to the veil,

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there are certain areas where the veil must not only be respected, but

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there are areas where it must be lifted. For example, if a parent

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turns up at school, it is already the case that teachers are not

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allowed to hand over children to strangers, to people that are

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unidentifiable as the parents of that child. Whether an adult turned

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up and says, I have been authorised to pick up these children on behalf

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of the parents, ID is a necessity. Likewise, it is a necessity to be

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able to identify a mother who claims that she is the mother of the child

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by asking her to lift her veil to identify herself. The same applies

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in examination halls, where students are expected to place their photo ID

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on the table so the examiner can see that it's actually the student

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sitting that exam. There are certain circumstances where the veil must be

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lifted for equality and respecting children putt right and everybody

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else's rights. We must respect the rights of a woman to choose what to

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do with her own body. A couple of members of the audience, this

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gentleman wanted to say something. It seems to me that human rights,

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they are like general, you get them because you exist. Religious rights,

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religious doctrine only comes around after indoctrination of it.

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Religious rights only exist after the human rights have had its

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foundation. To say that religious writer should be anywhere near the

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same grounds as human rights, it is invalid. You are making a mistake,

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of having something that can only apply to a whole applying to a part.

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Female genital mutilation, how can we protect these young girls when

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somebody's religious right to do it is equal to the person not given the

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human right? Is that cultural? You got the situation in Saudi Arabia

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were many women cover their faces, women are not allowed to drive,

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there is flogging and the death penalty for gays and rape victims

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can be charged with adultery and flogged. Is that the mark of a

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civilised society? Of course not, obviously not. All of this is

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happening in Saudi Arabia is totally different context from Britain. But

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we could do with human rights therefore women? You cannot compare

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Britain to Saudi Arabia, which is from the third World, where human

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rights are not invested in any way. There is no freedom of expression,

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no freedom of assembly or movement in Saudi Arabia. Why are we trying

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to imply what is in Saudi Arabia... That is under the umbrella of

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religion? That is all under the umbrella of religion. Who wants to

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come in? Sharon? I just wanted to pick up on the fact that when we are

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talking about the different minority groups and we are talking about the

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difference between human rights and religious rights, some minority

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groups, as with lesbian and gay people, are also religious people.

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We have to bring religious rights and human rights together because it

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is part of who we are. While we accept the adamant about the

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difference between religious and human rights, as a human being, I

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believe we all have a need and a desire for a belief structure,

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whether it is around humanism, one of the traditional beliefs or

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whatever. Being able to express a belief and faith system is a human

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rights in and of itself. It needs to be recognised. As we have already

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heard, that does not mean that they have a right to discriminate against

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other people. We tend to forget, when we are trying to put them

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against each other, that, as I say, some of us are both and religious.

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We need to have the freedom to express both. What I find

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objectionable is when my faith, in particular, but other faiths also do

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it, when the Christian faith tries to tell me I cannot be a lesbian and

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a personal faith. That is when I find that I have to back to human

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rights, because my religious rights are actually being taken away from

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me on the grounds of my sexuality. But people who run the

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aforementioned bed and breakfast would say their religious rights are

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being taken away from them? Not at all. They are able to believe it is

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wrong for anyone who is not married to sit together. The difference

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comes in the fact that they were opening up their home as a business.

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They were now making their rooms public property. They were publicly

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open and, therefore, as a public thing, they had to abide by the law

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of the land. The law of the land says you cannot discriminate against

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people based on their sexuality. In their own home, they can decide to

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do what they like. The problem with people that are unmarried sleeping

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together, not just homosexual couples. Can you please explain to

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me why they have had the full weight of the law thrown at them, but there

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are gay B in this country that are actively advertising for gay

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people only and will not allow heterosexual couples to stay at

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their B and B. I don't know of any. They do exist. Surely they are

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contravening the law? They are contravening the law just the same

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and I would hope the law would come down on them. Let me rap but this

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particular part, do you feel that Christians in this country are being

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persecuted? -- wrap it up. I think we are coming dangerously close to

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persecution. If you will not allow Christians to speak traditional

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faith based on the Bible, then you are restricting us. Discrimination

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is not a human rights. Freedom from discrimination is a human rights.

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Let's give her freedom of speech just now and I will come back to

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you. We have freedom from religion. Linda? We are coming to a place

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where there is a grave restriction on people saying any elements of the

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Christian faith that does not conform with the predominant

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cultural view. I think we are facing... We are very close to

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seeing active suppression of Christians, which would lead on to

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persecution. We have seen this developing before, in the French

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Revolution, in Nazi Germany, we found certain ideas were put in

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place and then they carried on to active persecution. Removing

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privileges not the same as discrimination. The Christian

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faith, speaking as an ordained Christian, the Christian faith has

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always had a privileged position within our society. What we are

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finding now is that... You are confusing something, freedom to

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express your belief is not a privilege that can be taken away, it

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is the articulation of faith. David Lammy? Are Christians on the edge of

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being persecuted? No, they are not! There are Christians... They are in

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Pakistan. Not in the UK. My Christian faith means a lot to me

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and there are Christians in Pakistan, in easyJet, in Nigeria

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today who are being persecuted. To say they are being persecuted in

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this country is ridiculous. -- in Egypt. To support these people that

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said, if you are gay, you cannot come into my bed and breakfast, I

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fail to see how different that is to the Britain of my father arrived in

:24:47.:24:53.

in 1956 that have signs outside B and establishments, no Blacks,

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no Irish, no dogs. We fought that, we got rid of that. We got rid of

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that oppression. We have to be in a society that is plural, where we

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support the human rights of everybody. If you don't want gay men

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and women in your home, you cannot open your home up to the public.

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It's as simple as that. They did not refuse to allow gay couples into

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their B and B. They simply said that they could not share a bedroom. They

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would have been perfectly happy to have had them in two separate rooms.

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How different is that... How different is that to an

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establishment that would have said to me and my wife, who is white, I'm

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sorry, I am not having a mixed race relationship in this institution?

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It's very different, actually, they are very committed Christians and

:25:50.:25:55.

the Bible says quite explicitly that all sexual relationships outside

:25:56.:26:03.

marriage... Yellow marker the Dutch Reform Church in South Africa was an

:26:04.:26:08.

aberration, was it? I don't know enough about it. Religious

:26:09.:26:12.

justification for apartheid. It is interesting, the justifications that

:26:13.:26:19.

can be inferred from the Bible, the Dutch Reform Church is an

:26:20.:26:22.

interesting example in apartheid South Africa? I'm very much in

:26:23.:26:26.

favour of protecting rights, I think they should have the same rights as

:26:27.:26:39.

everybody else. I think if a B owner wanted to disseminate against

:26:40.:26:43.

mixed-race couples, using theology to do so, they should not be allowed

:26:44.:26:47.

to do that. The addition of religion to objections does not lend the

:26:48.:26:50.

objections any more weight, in my book. The fact this particular

:26:51.:26:55.

couple was Christian, objecting to same-sex couples in their B, I

:26:56.:26:59.

don't see why that should lend their objections any more weight than some

:27:00.:27:03.

other couple that might have non-religious objections. I think

:27:04.:27:06.

there should be exemptions sometimes made for people that are religious.

:27:07.:27:10.

A Roman Catholic doctor should not be forced to perform an abortion.

:27:11.:27:15.

The reason is that they have a very strong moral objection. Anyone,

:27:16.:27:22.

nonreligious as well, if they have a similar objection, they should be

:27:23.:27:26.

exempt from that particular institution as well. I don't see

:27:27.:27:29.

that the addition of religion to somebody's objections and anyway it

:27:30.:27:34.

whatsoever as far as these cases are concerned. Yeti, you wanted to come

:27:35.:27:41.

in? Betty King Ministries? -- Betty. On the board said Irish,

:27:42.:27:47.

blacks, dogs, excluded. This couple were asking an unmarried homosexual

:27:48.:27:55.

couple not to come into debt institution. Sexuality is not a race

:27:56.:28:03.

it's a choice. A choice? It's not a choice. Yellow rattle homosexuality

:28:04.:28:12.

is not race. -- Homosexual it is not a race. You know what the Bible

:28:13.:28:21.

talks about. It talks about gay couples Homer sexuality. Does it

:28:22.:28:32.

mention lesbianism? It doesn't. As a Minister of the Gospel, in reading

:28:33.:28:37.

the Bible, you know what you are trying to protect is not in the

:28:38.:28:50.

Bible. Linda. You want religion without the responsibility. Davis! I

:28:51.:28:58.

find this very shocking, that in Britain Christians... I mean,

:28:59.:29:04.

talking always about my background, my origin, as a Nigerian boy who

:29:05.:29:09.

came to Britain only for the purpose for being safe and being able to

:29:10.:29:12.

practice my religion freely and being able to live my sexuality

:29:13.:29:18.

without being persecuted. Today, sitting in Britain, having

:29:19.:29:23.

Christians say that they are being persecuted because they are not able

:29:24.:29:30.

to speak their mind, they are not able to discriminate, they are

:29:31.:29:32.

claiming that because they are not allowed to disseminate. Where in the

:29:33.:29:37.

Bible... The Bible that I read, the whole of the Bible, in the Ten

:29:38.:29:42.

Commandments and that text, where in the Bible does it say... Is it a

:29:43.:29:47.

choice? Where does it say, thou shalt not be gay? I will ask you

:29:48.:29:56.

another question in a minute, Lynda, but Sahar wants to come in. I think

:29:57.:30:02.

the theological debate should be left within people who believe in

:30:03.:30:15.

Christianity. The danger is, when institutions and organisations or

:30:16.:30:18.

legal systems are getting themselves into this theological debate,

:30:19.:30:24.

interfering in someone's right to practice their religion is, I think

:30:25.:30:30.

we should make a distinction between the personal rights and these

:30:31.:30:32.

institutions going into this theology. There is a very good

:30:33.:30:36.

example I would like to raise on this particular point. I wonder,

:30:37.:30:42.

Lynda, what you think about this. You support religious rights. Do you

:30:43.:30:47.

support the rights of the Marks Spencer 's employee who was working

:30:48.:30:53.

at the till and who was allowed not to serve people who had pork

:30:54.:31:00.

products or alcohol. Do you support their religious rights? I think you

:31:01.:31:04.

need to unpack what is going on here. I don't support the right to

:31:05.:31:08.

be actually serving on the tills in a country where it is expected that

:31:09.:31:13.

you can serve alcohol or pork. If you know you are going to have those

:31:14.:31:17.

problems, she shouldn't have been on the tills there. But that is not

:31:18.:31:25.

what you were saying. That isn't what you were saying earlier. You

:31:26.:31:29.

have just taken a stance where you have defended your Christian rights

:31:30.:31:34.

but denied others' rights. So you're only stance should be secularism. By

:31:35.:31:40.

what you have just said, you have completely contradicted yourself, as

:31:41.:31:49.

did Betty earlier. She defended the French ban on the face veil, yet at

:31:50.:31:53.

the same time, proclaimed her right to prepare -- to practice her own

:31:54.:32:00.

fate. I assume you -- I assume you support the ban on the crucifix in

:32:01.:32:05.

France. You are wearing a crucifix right now. It is a cross, actually.

:32:06.:32:14.

Thank you for that clarification. The same ban on the face veil also

:32:15.:32:18.

banned you wearing that round your neck. Either you defend human rights

:32:19.:32:23.

for everyone or don't take any exclusivist stance, or you accept

:32:24.:32:29.

that you are arguing for your own rights to the exclusion of everyone

:32:30.:32:34.

else's. You need to one packed exactly what our -- what are

:32:35.:32:38.

religious rights and what our customary rights. I am not a scholar

:32:39.:32:49.

of the Koran. You are not? I am not. I believe there is no obligation

:32:50.:32:53.

laid down in the Koran that women have to become that with a niqab or

:32:54.:32:59.

burka. This has become a traditional, social custom. It

:33:00.:33:10.

isn't. It isn't an obligation. We should leave this debate to the

:33:11.:33:14.

people who believe in that faith rather than interfering... An

:33:15.:33:22.

absolute article of faith, if I may, in the UN Declaration on Human

:33:23.:33:28.

Rights, and traditionally, you said this right at the outset, Lynda. It

:33:29.:33:33.

is the right of everyone to hold the faith they want to hold and to have

:33:34.:33:39.

freedom to believe. Also key in the UN Declaration on Human Rights is

:33:40.:33:43.

the freedom to leave a religion, the freedom to get out of here and leave

:33:44.:33:48.

a religion. Stephen Law, that is vital, isn't it? Yes, absolutely

:33:49.:33:57.

key. I do agree with that. But across the world, there are death

:33:58.:34:01.

penalties if you do just that. Yes, and that is unacceptable. It

:34:02.:34:06.

concerns me that, if some polls are to be believed, there are minorities

:34:07.:34:14.

in this country of young people who believe it is unacceptable for them

:34:15.:34:17.

to leave their particular religion -- religion. Does anyone here in the

:34:18.:34:23.

studio think that? Does anyone disapprove of it? What a liberal

:34:24.:34:30.

assemblage we have here! Here is a situation that has occurred to me.

:34:31.:34:36.

What about circumcision? Is that a parental imposition of a religion on

:34:37.:34:41.

a child? Because that child, then, if that child leaves that particular

:34:42.:34:47.

religion that has circumcision as a tradition, that child... It is kind

:34:48.:34:51.

of final, circumcision. Stephen, your thoughts? Circumcision is not

:34:52.:35:00.

something I know so much about, particularly medically. Certainly,

:35:01.:35:05.

there are medical arguments to do with circumcision. Putting that to

:35:06.:35:09.

one side... It isn't the choice of the child, is it? Exactly. Supposing

:35:10.:35:16.

there was a chance who want to -- there was a child whose parents

:35:17.:35:20.

wanted to mark it in some other way, such with some facial -- such as

:35:21.:35:26.

with some facial markings. That would be unacceptable. We shouldn't

:35:27.:35:29.

accept a child to have those changes to their body at such a young age.

:35:30.:35:35.

Imposing that kind of physical change on a body, surely, that is

:35:36.:35:39.

something that should be left until later. The trial's human rights are

:35:40.:35:46.

being... ? Yes. But on the face of it, that is a pretty strong

:35:47.:35:52.

objection. Rabbi, I will come to you in a minute. I feel you want to come

:35:53.:36:00.

in here! I see this as, if you will forgive the expression, quite

:36:01.:36:04.

clear-cut moral issue. This is not laughing topic. We are talking about

:36:05.:36:10.

taking the most intimate part of a defenceless baby boy, who has

:36:11.:36:15.

absolutely no say in the matter, whose welfare is completely in the

:36:16.:36:19.

hands of other people, and we shouldn't look at that moral issue

:36:20.:36:23.

lightly. This is a perfect example, I would say, of - we spoke earlier

:36:24.:36:30.

about how some things can be justified on the basis of religion,

:36:31.:36:35.

whether it is misogyny or homophobia or something. Circumcision is a

:36:36.:36:40.

perfect example. If you are going to remove a part of your child's body

:36:41.:36:44.

for a nonreligious region -- nonreligious reason, such as...

:36:45.:36:52.

Social services would be in there. Absolutely, and that should happen.

:36:53.:36:57.

But when you throw the religion in there, everyone kind of steps back a

:36:58.:37:01.

bit. But it isn't different. You have to look at the rights and

:37:02.:37:06.

wrongs of what is taking place. It is a sharp instrument and a

:37:07.:37:10.

defenceless, naked baby, and that is wrong. Unless there was a medical

:37:11.:37:15.

reason for it. This is an infringement of somebody's human

:37:16.:37:20.

rights. They have no choice. The most compelling argument for it is

:37:21.:37:24.

that, but I personally do not agree. With human rights, we see a

:37:25.:37:28.

conversation, and religious rights are part of that conversation. You

:37:29.:37:34.

can't exclude religion from that conversation. But the child has no

:37:35.:37:39.

choice. Children have no trust over lots of things. Being a parent is a

:37:40.:37:45.

very difficult and complicated thing to do. In my congregation, people

:37:46.:37:49.

find it very difficult to answer questions of whether they should or

:37:50.:37:52.

shouldn't circumcise their children. They don't do it with the intention

:37:53.:37:57.

of infringing their child's human rights. They do it with the belief

:37:58.:38:02.

of bringing their child into a whole cultural and religious world they

:38:03.:38:06.

are part of, and that is part of the conversation. You can't just take

:38:07.:38:12.

out one component. I'm not saying it is done in tension leave harmfully.

:38:13.:38:18.

It is like double standards, and it demonstrates to us the power of

:38:19.:38:22.

religious belief, the power of religious community and belief, and

:38:23.:38:29.

also the pressure that comes from within that community to keep those

:38:30.:38:34.

traditions going. Do you understand the logic of what Charlie is

:38:35.:38:38.

saying? Of course, but as parents, we are faced with lots of difficult

:38:39.:38:42.

chill -- difficult decisions that we make for our children. Circumcision

:38:43.:38:50.

is different from utilise -- from utility, isn't it? Let's not use the

:38:51.:39:00.

term mutilation. Let's not call it mutilation, because what you then do

:39:01.:39:06.

is create a very problematic conversation about female genital

:39:07.:39:09.

mutilation, which I think is damaging to the female genital

:39:10.:39:19.

mutilation argument, because FGM is a suppression and damage of a

:39:20.:39:27.

woman's human rights. Now, let's bring you win. You two guys have a

:39:28.:39:32.

story to the House. You wanted to come in on this particular point.

:39:33.:39:40.

Clearly, as you know, there are many children who would buy from that

:39:41.:39:47.

procedure. Of course, it isn't comparable to FGM, but there are

:39:48.:39:50.

males who die from this procedure. The holy text mentions specific

:39:51.:39:56.

provisions for if the first sons dies from circumcision. It is not a

:39:57.:40:04.

case of simply caring for your child. First of all, I don't know

:40:05.:40:15.

the statistics worldwide, but the statistics in this country by the

:40:16.:40:19.

Association of Mohelim, that conducts circumcision is for the

:40:20.:40:24.

boys in my community, are all medically trained before they are

:40:25.:40:28.

allowed to conduct circumcision is. The statistical risk is very low.

:40:29.:40:33.

They audit their risk. They are very careful about how they conduct it.

:40:34.:40:40.

If there is any risk to life for that baby, then the circumcision is

:40:41.:40:45.

not permitted to go forward. But is irreversible. That's not the point

:40:46.:40:51.

he was making. He was making the point that we are killing our baby

:40:52.:40:54.

boys through circumcision, and that is not correct. What about raising

:40:55.:41:02.

the age of consent slightly with circumcision, so the child has a bit

:41:03.:41:06.

of choice? Something where the child can be consulted and spoken to a bit

:41:07.:41:14.

about it, a bit like custody with divorced parents, where the child is

:41:15.:41:17.

brought in and consulted as to whether they truly do wish to live

:41:18.:41:22.

with their mother all with their father. Sometimes, the age of 12 is

:41:23.:41:25.

where they take the opinion of the child. I would like to hear your

:41:26.:41:32.

story in a minute. We had some hands up. The gentleman in the jumper back

:41:33.:41:38.

there, with the glasses on. I just wanted to say that Chris' argument

:41:39.:41:44.

seems to be tantamount to denying a parent's right to bring up the child

:41:45.:41:50.

as part of their own community. I disagree. I was brought up in the

:41:51.:41:55.

Muslim faith, but I was circumcised later on. At the age of 12, my

:41:56.:41:59.

parents asked me whether I wanted to be circumcised as part of my faith.

:42:00.:42:06.

I disagree with the Rabbi. There are countries all over the world where

:42:07.:42:10.

children do die because they do not have the safety procedures we do.

:42:11.:42:15.

There are many countries in the world, where my parents came from in

:42:16.:42:20.

the third World, where it is not safe to circumcise boys. I am of the

:42:21.:42:25.

Muslim faith, and normally, boys are circumcised at birth. I think it is

:42:26.:42:29.

wrong. Give us a chance to have feedback from the community. I did

:42:30.:42:34.

it as an -- at an age where my parents consulted me. I said yes.

:42:35.:42:43.

The right to reply, Charlie. The right to bring up your child is a

:42:44.:42:47.

very important right. Generally, you should be able to do what you want.

:42:48.:42:51.

But freedom to manifest your own religion should stop sometimes, at

:42:52.:42:59.

someone else's body. You have to be 18 years old to have a tad too, but

:43:00.:43:03.

for some reason, you can cut your child's foreskin off. So if you want

:43:04.:43:09.

to do that, or if you want to have a tad too on your child, cut their

:43:10.:43:13.

foreskin of the first, and then you can trust to it! It is a very

:43:14.:43:25.

difficult decision, and I think it is important for the audience to

:43:26.:43:29.

hear that I have parents who join my community who make the choice not

:43:30.:43:34.

to, as well as to circumcise their boys, and they are equally welcomed

:43:35.:43:38.

into my community. It isn't about excluding people who don't make that

:43:39.:43:42.

choice. Secondly, circumcision has been used as a weapon against the

:43:43.:43:49.

Jewish community, as a means of anti-Jewish legislation throughout

:43:50.:43:52.

all of Jewish history, and you are on very dangerous territory for the

:43:53.:43:57.

Jewish can. We feel threatened by the prospect of someone trying to

:43:58.:44:02.

legislate about this. The Royal Family is a circumcised! On this

:44:03.:44:05.

point, we will leave it there. That's too much information. Tina,

:44:06.:44:11.

Catholic Studies at Roehampton University. You are uncomfortable

:44:12.:44:16.

with the gender segregation that we heard about recently. I am, but

:44:17.:44:24.

before I say why, I am also uncomfortable with the fact that we

:44:25.:44:27.

are interpreting human rights, and I agree with everyone that religious

:44:28.:44:31.

rights are human rights, religious people are human beings and,

:44:32.:44:36.

actually, it is a relatively small minority race, of secular modernity,

:44:37.:44:40.

that would have seen any possibility of separating out religion from the

:44:41.:44:47.

rest of being human. Everybody has beliefs, values, ideas they

:44:48.:44:51.

subscribe to. That is part of what we are talking about. But you can't

:44:52.:44:55.

impose them on other people, that is the key? Throughout history,

:44:56.:44:59.

religious views have been imposed on people. All sorts of views are

:45:00.:45:05.

imposed on people. I am a pacifist. I have to watch people on the BBC

:45:06.:45:09.

wearing red poppies for a month, in public. Is that painful? It is, I

:45:10.:45:16.

have to pay taxes to fight wars I don't believe in. We have to

:45:17.:45:20.

compromise all along the line. We may not all have religious

:45:21.:45:25.

identities, we have national identities, we can understand

:45:26.:45:30.

analogies if we say, how much does my community matter to me, sometimes

:45:31.:45:34.

more than my individual rights. I think gender comes in there. I am

:45:35.:45:38.

certainly not in favour of gender segregation in publicly funded

:45:39.:45:43.

places like universities. The whole ethos of a forum like that is to

:45:44.:45:48.

reflect the values of a society to which we belong and we do not accept

:45:49.:45:55.

gender segregation. Isn't that a religious rite? No. The language of

:45:56.:46:03.

rights is a blunt in strength. The language of the law cannot always

:46:04.:46:09.

address the nuances and complexities that we need to have around these

:46:10.:46:13.

areas. The B couple is a very good example. That couple have on their

:46:14.:46:19.

website that they did not welcome unmarried people sharing rooms. They

:46:20.:46:28.

had a mosaic on their reception desk saying, Jesus is Lord. Why would any

:46:29.:46:35.

gay couple want to stay there? We have kind of been over that ground.

:46:36.:46:41.

Lisa? The gender segregation, are you supportive? I am, because it is

:46:42.:46:49.

voluntary. We are not asking for gender segregation in public areas

:46:50.:46:53.

like pavements... Television studios? This is not the perfect

:46:54.:46:59.

environment for me. But I did not say to the producer I didn't want to

:47:00.:47:05.

sit next to men. Why is it not the perfect environment? Bear with me.

:47:06.:47:12.

Bear with me! Why is this not... You are oppressing me because you are

:47:13.:47:16.

not allowing me to finish my point. Why is this not be perfect

:47:17.:47:20.

environment for you? If I could, I would adhere to Islamic tradition

:47:21.:47:26.

and sit separately from men. That is my choice. What about your Muslim

:47:27.:47:31.

sisters fighting against segregation in the Muslim world? There is an

:47:32.:47:41.

underlying principle, an Islamic principle, there is no compulsion in

:47:42.:47:46.

the religion. The segregation, which I don't prefer to even call it

:47:47.:47:49.

that, it is only sitting arrangements. When you mentioned

:47:50.:47:54.

segregation, it reflects a dichotomy between superiority and inferiority,

:47:55.:47:58.

which is not true. It is a basic religious right that some groups

:47:59.:48:01.

want to manifest and it is voluntary. Let me extend my

:48:02.:48:08.

apologies for interrupting, I thought it was such an interesting

:48:09.:48:12.

point, please carry on. You have ruined my train of thought. You feel

:48:13.:48:18.

more comfortable in that situation. Do you think it is acceptable in a

:48:19.:48:25.

public place like university? If an Islamic organisation is holding the

:48:26.:48:29.

event, I expect them to allow me to adhere to tradition, it is just the

:48:30.:48:32.

most obvious. If the Islamic organisation is holding the event in

:48:33.:48:36.

a public arena like a university, a lecture hall, a conference hall or

:48:37.:48:41.

if it is in a mosque, I do expect they would allow me to adhere to

:48:42.:48:44.

Islamic tradition. But I am not saying we should extend this to

:48:45.:48:52.

buses and trains. Abhishek, you would disagree. You were at one of

:48:53.:48:56.

these meetings? It is a lie that it is voluntary. We have attended an

:48:57.:49:00.

event, two friends of mine have been evicted for sitting in the ladies

:49:01.:49:05.

area, which was at the back of the room. The men were at the front, the

:49:06.:49:16.

women were at the back. Please. If you want to have a seating

:49:17.:49:19.

arrangement, the organisation that organised the event put it out. I

:49:20.:49:24.

was at the event, there was mixed seating for those that wanted to sit

:49:25.:49:27.

together and there was a segregated seating for men and women. Sounds a

:49:28.:49:32.

bit like South Africa, doesn't it? That is what Maajid just said? The

:49:33.:49:41.

struggle that you referred to, the struggle you should be referring to,

:49:42.:49:44.

the struggle of your Muslim sisters... Let me speak. I also want

:49:45.:49:57.

to hear from David Lammy, an elected representative. You two were there.

:49:58.:50:03.

You have 40 odd women that have decided out of their own choice,

:50:04.:50:08.

choice being the operative word, to sit in the segregated area. There is

:50:09.:50:11.

no reason for men to impose themselves in the women's area. Why

:50:12.:50:16.

on earth would you object to women wanting to sit next to another woman

:50:17.:50:26.

out of their own free choice? Chris? Nobody has forced you to sit next to

:50:27.:50:30.

anyone. There was a clear force applied to those people that came

:50:31.:50:33.

into the room and were told, you cannot sit here, you cannot sit

:50:34.:50:36.

here, you have to sit here. There is force applied to those people. We

:50:37.:50:41.

were refused entry to the female area when I was with my partner

:50:42.:50:47.

because I am male. You, as a woman, have the right to sit next to

:50:48.:50:52.

whoever you like. But you do not have the right to impose it on

:50:53.:51:00.

anyone else. Let's go to Charlie. Chris? No, let's go to Charlie. A

:51:01.:51:08.

couple of these events, the females had to submit their questions to the

:51:09.:51:12.

speakers beforehand, whereas the men could just ask the questions they

:51:13.:51:15.

wanted on the day. How do you feel about that? They could have been

:51:16.:51:20.

private questions. But it was one rule for the women, one for the men,

:51:21.:51:24.

they had to filter the questions. Have you been to these events? Yes.

:51:25.:51:30.

You guys wore some T-shirts? Would you like to see them? What have you

:51:31.:51:39.

got on your T-shirt? Stop drawing the prophet? It is a cartoon, Jesus

:51:40.:51:55.

and Mo, it pokes fun at religious figures, we wore them at the

:51:56.:51:59.

freshers fair. We all know about the Danish cartoons? But it does not

:52:00.:52:07.

denigrate muslins or anything. We were asked to take them off, cover

:52:08.:52:11.

them up, we were harassed by the University staff, students union

:52:12.:52:18.

staff, over two days. You have the right to wear the veil and the

:52:19.:52:21.

niqab, I support those rights. Are you also going to stand up for my

:52:22.:52:23.

right to wear whatever I like? We talked about the face veil,

:52:24.:52:36.

segregation, there is a trend in the media, this is a different context.

:52:37.:52:42.

Does he have the right to wear that T-shirt? The segregation issue was

:52:43.:52:48.

promoted in the media by Henry Jackson Society, a far right

:52:49.:52:51.

organisation. There is Islamophobia industry going on. Segregation, the

:52:52.:52:58.

face veil feeds into that. Do they have the right to wear those

:52:59.:53:04.

T-shirts? Sunni no. Why are you trying to offend a religious faith.

:53:05.:53:06.

UR offending us. You know that many people, EDL

:53:07.:53:17.

bigots, for example, would be offended by you wearing the veil. Do

:53:18.:53:20.

they have the right to impose their sensibilities on you? Was it you

:53:21.:53:26.

that said no, they don't have the right to wear those T-shirts? Is

:53:27.:53:31.

wearing our hijab is our own right, we are not when you threaten our

:53:32.:53:38.

religion and our right, that should be a concern, not only for Muslims

:53:39.:53:42.

but for everyone else. Like you are saying, human rights is very

:53:43.:53:45.

important to us. When you do threaten our religion, we are not

:53:46.:53:49.

sitting here wearing a hijab, mocking you in anyway. It is a

:53:50.:53:52.

picture of a man with a beard, it not really Mohamed Diame stop As a

:53:53.:53:58.

Muslim, that T-shirt does not threaten my God, does not threaten

:53:59.:54:01.

my faith, it does not threaten the Koran, it does not threaten any

:54:02.:54:06.

aspect of my religion. I do not feel threatened by these men wearing that

:54:07.:54:11.

T-shirt. David, I think it is important we hear from you. Is it

:54:12.:54:14.

important that we have the right to offend? Yes. It is. But the measure

:54:15.:54:27.

of a civilised society is how we treat minorities. Therefore, we have

:54:28.:54:35.

to here and listen to the Muslim women that are in this room that are

:54:36.:54:38.

offended. Just because you have the right to offend, it does not mean

:54:39.:54:45.

that you have to go on to offend. When I am entering a synagogue in my

:54:46.:54:49.

constituency, and I represent a Stamford Hill, Orthodox, Jewish

:54:50.:54:55.

community, I wear a skull cap. I do not shake hands with the women that

:54:56.:54:59.

I am presented with because it is culturally not appropriate. If I

:55:00.:55:03.

going to a mosque, I take off my shoes. I am respectful of religion.

:55:04.:55:15.

This was a university campus. In a university campus, it is a public

:55:16.:55:19.

building, where you extend meetings to everyone. There is a reason why

:55:20.:55:23.

we talk about the liberal arts, but I think you also have to be

:55:24.:55:29.

respectful of all experiences and the fact that, probably, it is going

:55:30.:55:34.

to be very difficult to preserve any degree of segregation in that

:55:35.:55:39.

context. The Dave Allen show was repeated the other day, great

:55:40.:55:43.

comedian who offended religions at the time. Why does David Lammy say

:55:44.:55:49.

it is respectful not to shake the hand of a woman. Do you know why you

:55:50.:55:53.

are not shaking her hand? In case you are polluted by her. I didn't

:55:54.:55:58.

say I agree with it, but I respect the fact that... Who are you

:55:59.:56:03.

respecting? In every religion in the world, institutional power is in the

:56:04.:56:08.

hands of men. I think we need to address these issues in terms of

:56:09.:56:14.

power. The veil is a good example. Why do we jump solely on Muslim

:56:15.:56:19.

women in this context? The Bullingdon Club, which our Prime

:56:20.:56:22.

Minister was part of, excludes women. Golf clubs exclude women. One

:56:23.:56:29.

other very important issue. While we have time, the kirpan. The carrying

:56:30.:56:38.

of the knife. You, of course, are representing the Sikh community.

:56:39.:56:41.

There is an exemption to carry the knife. Why is it so important?

:56:42.:56:46.

Because it is one of the articles of faith. I have to say that the

:56:47.:56:50.

obnoxious French secularism affects Sikhs as well, we are not allowed to

:56:51.:56:55.

wear a turban in public places. This movement of freedom across Europe is

:56:56.:56:59.

a nonsense. I am pleased we have members of parliament here who would

:57:00.:57:03.

undoubtedly be able to defend our right to go to France and live there

:57:04.:57:07.

as European citizens without having to remove our turban. How important

:57:08.:57:13.

is the kirpan? It is the last of the five articles of faith. Once they

:57:14.:57:16.

have shown that they know it's meaning, it is the way you have been

:57:17.:57:23.

blessed to fight for some body else's freedom. So, the kirpan has

:57:24.:57:30.

been exempted from prosecution from the 1951 crime act. So far, it

:57:31.:57:33.

today, in Britain, there has not been a single case of a Sikh abusing

:57:34.:57:38.

that. It is an offensive weapon, as you say? I think that is a good

:57:39.:57:52.

point to finish on. That is an excellent example of an exemption

:57:53.:57:56.

that seems to work? It seems to work and it is so important to your

:57:57.:58:01.

faith. Listen, it has been lively, that has been really interesting.

:58:02.:58:03.

Thank you all very much for taking part. Thank you. As ever, the debate

:58:04.:58:12.

will continue on Twitter and online. Please join us next Sunday from

:58:13.:58:19.

Salford. From everyone in east London, goodbye. Have a really good

:58:20.:58:21.

Sunday. Thanks for watching.

:58:22.:58:24.

Nicky Campbell presides over a special debate recorded at Queen Mary University of London, asking just one question - should human rights always outweigh religious rights?

Amongst those taking part are David Lammy MP, Maajid Nawaz from The Quilliam Foundation, Rev Lynda Rose from Voice for Justice, philosopher Dr Stephen Law, prof Tina Beattie from Roehampton Univeristy, Davis Mac-Iyalla from LGBT Christians in Exile, Rev Betty King, Charlie Klendjian from the Lawyers' Secular Scoiety, Muslim community organiser Sahar Al-Faifi, Rev Sharon Ferguson from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Harmaner Singh from Sikhs in England and Rabbi Neil Janes from the Liberal Jewish Synagogue.


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