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Legal bid to block gay rights law fails

By Emily Moulton

A high Court bid by a body of churches to stop the implementation of equal rights for gays and lesbians in the New Year has failed.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Deeny refused to postpone the implementation of the controversial regulations which are set to become law on January 1.

The ruling has delighted the gay and lesbian community.

Rita Wild from the Lesbian Advocacy Services Initiative, who was at the judicial review, said she was delighted with the outcome.

"We are delighted that Mr Justice Deeny decided that there was not sufficient reason to stop the implementation of regulations which will protect members of the gay and lesbian communities from discrimination.

"This is a lovely Christmas present," she said.

However, the Christian Institute, which lodged the application along with a number of Churches in Northern Ireland, said it was disappointed by the ruling.

The body applied for the interim relief on the grounds that they believed the laws would infringe religious liberty and were pushed through without a proper consultation process.

At the hearing barrister David Scoffield, appearing for the Christian Institute and a number of Churches, asked Justice Deeny to postpone the introduction of the regulations in Northern Ireland given the Government had put back implementation in England and Wales until April 2007.

"In view of that it is very difficult for the Government to argue there is a pressing need for this legislation in this jurisdiction at this time."

But Justice Deeny refused and set a date for a full hearing to be heard on March 1 and 2.

Belfast Telegraph


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