It seems some councils plan to start 2009 in the spirit of persecution of the unwilling, just like last year, and the one before that, etc, etc:
A care home where elderly Christian residents refused to answer ‘intrusive’ questions about their sexuality is at the centre of a bitter legal battle after its council grant was axed.See, you don’t have to ask the questions. But if you don’t, well, the council doesn’t have to give you a grant. Funny how that works out, eh...?
Brighton & Hove Council told the home to ask pensioners four times a year about their sexual orientation under its ‘fair access and diversity’ policies, which stem from New Labour equality laws.
Council chiefs also accused the charity that runs the home of ‘institutional discrimination’, before cutting a £13,000 grant towards warden services.
And 'four times a year'? Are they expecting it to change that often, even in Brighton?
Andrew Jessop, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘The council has taken overzealousness to the extreme. People in their 90s are very vulnerable and shouldn’t be treated in this way.’A ‘voluntary’ questionnaire, naturally.
Tensions began last year when the council imposed stricter criteria on organisations it supported to ‘comply’ with the Equality Act 2006 and the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.
It circulated a questionnaire to the Pilgrim Home in Egremont Place, Brighton, which houses 39 single Christians aged over 80, including former missionaries and a minister.
Phil Wainwright, director of human resources for Pilgrim Homes, said he was told by the council the home had to ask residents if they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or ‘unsure’, even if they objected. Many of the elderly rebelled, however, and the home wrote to the council saying residents did not want to participate.And that set the cat among the pigeons. Can’t have people thinking that because the questionnaire is voluntary, that they really have some choice in the matter.
But Brighton & Hove Council complained about the home’s ‘negative response’ and argued that because the home had a Christian ethos, gay people might be deterred from applying.This is the ‘service’ you can now expect from the unscrutinised little gauleiters that take your council tax – petty spite if you don’t co-operate with their schemes.
It cited the ‘resistance’ to using images of elderly gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in the home’s leaflets, saying this meant gays and lesbians ‘would not feel comfortable’ applying for a place.
The council then announced it was axeing the grant because there had been ‘limited progress’ in making the home accessible to the homosexual community.
Several MPs have weighed in on this:
MPs last night backed the charity, which fears other councils that provide it with grants totalling more than £100,000, could follow Brighton’s lead.It’d be nice to see some strong condemnation from Call-Me-Dave, but I expect he’s waiting for the focus group to weigh in before his spin doctors let him make up his mind...
Ann Widdecombe, former Tory Home Office Minister, said: ‘The equality law does not oblige anyone to ask intrusive questions. This sort of thing needs to be nipped in the bud.’
David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, said: ‘It is absolutely disgraceful that the council has tried to get 90-year-olds, from a generation that wasn’t obsessed with sex, to put intimate information on to one of its forms.’
The council is doing its best to bluster away any critiscism, with the usual ‘Who, me...?’ excuse:
But Brighton & Hove Council said: ‘We have never expected any residents to answer questions about their sexuality if they preferred not to do so.Yeah, sure. And I expect if all the residents had returned the questionnaire with ‘Mind your own business’ written on it, you’d have given them their grant...?
‘The Government specifically states the home must be open to the gay and lesbian community and that it must demonstrate this to qualify for funding. In the absence of any willingness to do this, funding has been withdrawn.’