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Scottish Leader Calls for Workplace Discrimination Laws to Apply to Churches

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has started reviewing gender equality laws, and one leader called for sexual discrimination laws to apply to churches and mosques, Britain's The Times reported.

"We would not tolerate murder, violence, racial discrimination or sexual abuse in any religious organisation, so why do we not only tolerate, but legislate for, gender discrimination?" asked Ben Thomson, chairman of Creative Scotland, the public body that supports the arts, screen, and creative industries across Scotland.

"There seems to be a huge focus by politicians and media on the importance of the number of women in cabinet or on corporate boards but there is little mention that there are no female Catholic priests or mullahs," Thomson added in a document he sent to SNP ministers to advise them on how to examine gender equality laws.

The Equality Act of 2010 includes an exemption from the prohibition on gender discrimination if employment is for the purposes of an organized religion. Thomson opposed this exemption on the grounds that it denies women the same rights as men in the workplace.

"Most of the religions practised in the UK to some extent discriminate on the basis of gender and it is time we stopped supporting this exemption in our legislation," the arts chairman said.

Thomson argued that having women as religious leaders would integrate the culture of churches and mosques "into the ethics of our culture in Scotland." Such integration would decrease "alien" practices such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage, he claimed.

But the arts chairman went even further. "If there had been greater gender diversity in the Catholic church, the extent of paedophilia by those in positions of authority within the church would most likely not have been as widespread."

"In both the examples, the end victims are not necessarily members of the religion, but it is the lack of women as part of the leadership in religion that leads to wider problems in society," Thomson wrote.

According to The Times, forcing churches and mosques to hire female leaders would also tackle "fundamentalism."

"If we want to assimilate Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and the many other religions into our society then, while accepting and celebrating their differences, they should also accept that there is a set of ethics that include prohibiting gender discrimination that should form the basis of every part of our society, including religion," the arts chairman wrote.

Make no mistake — this guidance represented a plan to bring secular discrimination law into religious groups, especially Roman Catholic churches and Muslim mosques. Worse, Thomson based this proposal on the preposterous idea that only allowing male leaders in religion was responsible for the sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church and the cultural misogyny in the Muslim world.