Robbie Low on a strange Parliamentary development

The scene is a delightful country church on a Saturday afternoon in late spring. The guests are assembled, the dapper groom is at the altar rail. The bride, a large and heavily made-up wench, has joined him. The Preface has been read and the vicar inquires confidently, ‘Therefore if any man can show any just cause, etc, etc.’

A little old lady stands up and interrupts. ‘I can’, she says. ‘The bride is my nephew, Bernard.’

What does the vicar do now? The answer may surprise you. First, he would take the name of the old lady and report her to the civil authorities. For a breach of confidence and failing to acknowledge Bernard in his new chosen gender, she will be fined up to £5,000. The vicar then has two options. Either he can phone up his local Affirming Catholic neighbour and ask him to officiate immediately or, if he considers this is all in a day’s work in the modern Church of England, he can proceed himself. Certainly neither he nor his wardens nor the congregation can prevent the solemnization of this ‘event’ going ahead in the church.

Hard Cases

None of the above is fantasy. If the Gender Recognition Bill, passing through Parliament now, is passed unamended, it will be the law of the land. The Government has decided to give full and equal rights to transsexuals even at the expense of truth, human biology and deeply held religious convictions.

Transsexual are those who feel that they have been trapped in the body of the wrong sex. It is a complicated area. Some genuine sufferers have biological abnormalities or anatomical confusion from birth. These are rare. The rest suffer anything from a bizarre delight in ‘cross dressing’ (transvestites) right through to those who demand hormone treatment and ‘corrective’ surgery. (Several clergy have done this in recent years). It is increasingly clear that hormonal stimulation and surgical mutilation are no answer to what is, fundamentally, a psycho-sexual problem. For the overwhelming majority of those patients there is not the slightest doubt about their true biological identity.

The Gender Recognition Bill says that transsexuals must have full rights, in their chosen sex, to marry and claim benefits. Most disturbing of all is the right to a new birth certificate. The person can alter history simply by asserting that his/her chosen gender has always been the reality. Bernard may be forty, but he has decided he has always been Barbara. This is the new truth and the law will deal harshly with those who deny the state sponsored lie. Bernard may have been married to a woman and fathered three children but his (her) birth certificate will confuse future genealogists, never mind the grandchildren.

How has Bernard transgendered? He has considered himself to be a woman for a couple of years and has presented himself as such before a panel of Government assessors. They agree that he is living as a woman and that is the end of the matter. All change. Does he need ‘corrective’ surgery to qualify as a woman? No. He can, as they say, retain a full set and insist on his right to the ladies powder room. Even George Orwell didn’t see this one coming.


But wait. There must be exceptions. Indeed there are. Some bright spark pointed out that this would be the end of women’s sport. Martin Johnson puts on a frock and the England women’s rugby team wins every game. Those whose memory goes back to the unbeatable ‘women’ athletes of Soviet times will see the problem. So yes, sport has been excluded – so far.

Religion? Well, a sympathetic Baroness ( O’Cathain) in the Lords did propose an amendment to exempt the Church. And thereby hangs a tale. Had the four Bishops on duty voted in favour of the amendment it would have been carried and the Church spared. In fact, three voted against the amendment (Worcester, Newcastle and Manchester) and one (Winchester) abstained. Exemption for the Church (and not just the Church of England) was lost by the votes of the bishops. The one who spoke gave a fascinating insight into the mind of the current leadership of the Church of England. Peter Selby (Worcester) painted a bizarre picture. A patronal festival at his palace’s parish, held on the village green, sees the arrival of a transsexual. Numbers of the bishop’s flock turn ugly and, in order to avoid confrontation, the good bishop is obliged to ask him/ her to leave. The bishop would like the strength of the law around him to ensure that he behaved decently and fairly in this highly unlikely scenario. Quite why Selby feels at liberty to caricature his flock in this way and why he believes he needs the law to make him behave compassionately is an enigma.

Church and State

Furthermore – and here the constitutional argument deepens – Selby believes that as the Church of the State, the Church of England should be subject to the laws of the state. No exemptions please. Leaving aside the simple observation that, had the exemption passed, it would have been the law of the state, something more pernicious is at work here. The Church of England Newspaper, not noted for ferocious editorials, said that the debate revealed episcopal desire to enforce very secular State control over the Church last seen implemented by the Nazis and the Reich Bishop Ludwig Muller; and called for the appointment of bishops who understood and believed the faith. New Directions readers will be all too familiar with the ruinous appointment system that has brought us to this pass. But they will also recognize, in Selby’s argumentation, a development of the famous ‘Lightman Judgment’ of the mid-1990s. Justice Lightman ruled that the Church of England ‘as by law established’ did not refer so much to its historic foundation, beliefs and principles, but asserted that everything could be changed by parliamentary legislation. If Parliament decided that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then that would henceforth be the teaching of the Church of England ‘by law established’.

Peter Selby and his friends have starkly revealed the next tactic in the game for the liberal death of the Church of England. If what is legal equals what is right, then we can no longer protest abortion, euthanasia, women bishops, ‘gay marriages’ in Church or even men in the ladies lavatory. You thought they’d never make it compulsory. They have now.

Robbie Low lives in Cornwall