Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bishops' draft guidance appears to recommend Catholics assist transsexual people through "gender reassignment"

It is a matter of great concern to me and, I am sure, to many Catholics, that a draft document (of which I have recently become aware) prepared for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales should seem to recommend that Catholics co-operate with acts that are gravely contrary to the moral law. Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations, which is intended to give practical guidance to Catholics on the application of Equality Law, states:
"Transsexual people face many difficulties before, during and after transitioning to another gender. As such it is recommended to seek guidance on how to make the transitional process as easy as possible. This could include training for co-workers, as well as reference to medical and social advice".
The draft document appears to be recommending Catholics to assist another person in pursuing a course of action which will prove physically and psychologically damaging in order to protect themselves from the risk of coming into conflict with equality laws.

This is far from being the only problem with the draft document. My personal assistant, Matthew McCusker, has helpfully written an analysis of the document. The Executive Summary of Matthew's analysis can also be found below.

You may wish to send your comments on the draft document to the bishopof the Catholic diocese in which you live and to Archbishop Peter Smith, Chairman of the CBCEW’s Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship at Archbishop's House, 150 St George’s Road, London, SE1 6HX or to his email: If you have any further queries about this matter or about Matthew's analysis, please contact him at

Executive Summary

Matthew McCusker's paper is an analysis of Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations. Applying Equality Law in Practice, which is said to be approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, aims to “provide an accurate overview of equality law as it stands ... with a focus on religious issues.” The legislation under discussion is the Equality Act 2010, with subsequent legislation taken into account. Applying Equality Law in Practice is out for consultation until 31st May 2014. [JS: I am in correspondence with Archbishop Smith and I have requested that the Consultation close at a later date.]

Matthew's paper raises concerns about the content of Applying Equality Law in Practice and challenges the claim that it offers “informed advice and guidance”, which will prove to be “a resource which can be referred to when a particular issue arises”.

In particular Matthew argues that Applying Equality Law in Practice:
  • Fails to place the Equality Act 2010 in its social and political context.
  • Incorrectly claims that the “framework” of the Equality Act 2010 “is in line with Catholic teaching”.
  • Provides a distorted interpretation of the law by failing to distinguish acceptable definitions/usage of key terms from the distorted definitions/usage of key terms used by proponents of equality law.
  • Urges conformity to the Equality Act, and promotion of it, without adequate consideration of the moral dimensions of the law.
  • Fails to enunciate Catholic teaching on the questions under discussion and thus fails to offer real guidance to those seeking assistance “when a particular issue arises”.
  • Confuses “religious rights” and the natural moral law in such a way as to undermine claims to objective truth in moral matters.
  • Fails to uphold the rights of non-Catholics by retreating from the natural moral law to “religious rights”.
  • Fails to uphold the authentic dignity of those falling under the protected characteristics of “sexual orientation” and “gender reassignment” by acquiescing in the false ideology which underpins the law and by failing either to share the truth in love, or to encourage others to do so.
  • Fails to offer moral support or encouragement to those who are concerned that the law poses a risk to their authentic rights.
In short, Applying Equality Law in Practice as currently drafted is inadequate as guidance for Catholic dioceses and “Catholic individuals and organisations” who need  advice “when a particular issue arises” relating to current equality law.

Comments on this blog? Email them to
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy