Sex Equality Questions for University of Wales; TOP ACADEMICS MAKE PROTEST TO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 31, 2011 | Go to article overview

Sex Equality Questions for University of Wales; TOP ACADEMICS MAKE PROTEST TO HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION


Byline: MARTIN SHIPTON

THE University of Wales could face an inquiry into an allegation it is breaching a new equality law by validating degrees at Christian fundamentalist colleges run by groups that believe homosexuality and sex outside marriage is sinful.

A number of senior academics in Wales intend to make a formal complaint about the university's involvement with such colleges to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. On Tuesday, Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 comes into force. It introduces a public-sector equality duty which imposes on public authorities a legally enforceable obligation to "have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under this Act".

One of the "protected characteristics" defined in the Act is sexual orientation. Public bodies that fail to comply with the equality duty can face action in the civil courts.

A report written by a professor at a Welsh university, who wishes to remain anonymous for professional reasons, examines the University of Wales' association with eight colleges that subscribe to a Christian fundamentalist viewpoint.

One of the colleges referred to in the report - the Danish Bible Institute - operates through the Copenhagen Lutheran School of Theology (LSTA in Danish). The report reproduces a screen shot of an LSTA web page which states: "In 2005 LSTA started its own Danish theological Bachelor programme, which takes four years and is validated by the University of Wales. The BA students get their teaching at LSTA, where, also, all assessments take place.

"All teaching is academic and seeks to equip the students to serve the Church in different ministries after graduation. In the BA programme an obligatory trainee period is put in. Add to this that the BA student is expected to engage him/herself into various ecclesiastical tasks, eg youth work, charity work, missions to vulnerable groups of society."

The report goes on to quote from another section of the website that makes it clear the college - and another in Denmark, which also has degrees validated by the University of Wales - subscribe to the doctrines of the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church, which believes homosexuality is a sin and is Creationist in its belief. …

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