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UK Equality Bill Gains Political Support

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The equality bill making its way through the British parliament has been endorsed by both the Labour and Conservative parties. The bill has successfully passed committee and entered the report stage in the House of Lords.

The bill is designed to both expand and clarify antidiscrimination laws. The sweeping measures will cover "protected characteristics" such as age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, age, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation. The Christian Science Monitor says the bill "would compel all government departments to take steps to shatter the glass ceiling for women," among other groups.

The equality bill has received criticism from the Catholic Church, with Pope Benedict speaking out against it. He told a group of bishops that any law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation "violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded." Some religious groups fear they will be forced to hire gay and lesbian staff, which many say interferes with their freedom of religion.

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