NSS urges First Minister to review misogyny enabling charity law

The National Secular Society has called on the First Minister of Scotland to review ‘the advancement of religion’ as a charitable purpose.

In a letter, the NSS told Humza Yousaf his initiative on shaping positive masculinity was being “undermined” by charity law which enables the spread of “religiously inspired misogyny”. The initiative seeks to counter sexism, misogyny and abuse or violence against women and girls.

The NSS pointed to the recent example of Rosyth Baptist Church, a Christian charity whose pastor claimed “a husband is the head of his wife” in a sermon titled ‘Submit and love’.

It said the sermon was “degrading and discriminatory” and “validates behaviour that could be considered coercive and controlling”.

The NSS also noted the failure of the Scottish charity regulator to act after a pastor at Moray Coast Baptist Church asserted the “primary function” of a woman is “to be married, to have children, and to tend to household affairs”.

At the time, the regulator said religious beliefs “are protected under the Equality Act 2010” and action can only be taken when there is a “clear and direct harm”.

The letter argued promoting misogyny “is clearly harmful” and it is individuals, not beliefs, that are protected by equality law. It said the regulator was prioritising religion over the protected characteristic of sex by failing to act on misogyny.

The regulator would not permit comparable misogyny propagated by a nonreligious charity, it said.

NSS: ‘Religious charities spreading misogyny with impunity’

NSS campaigns officer Alejandro Sanchez said: “We welcome efforts by the First Minister to address the attitudes underpinning misogyny and violence against women and girls.

“However, he will be swimming against the current as long as religious charities are allowed to spread misogyny with impunity.

“If the Scottish government is serious about tackling misogyny it must stop enabling discrimination promoted by religious organisations. This means ending their tax breaks and removing their charitable status.”

Media coverage:

Review urged amid claims Scots charity law helps spread “religiously inspired misogyny” (Third Force News)

First Minister urged to review ‘advancement of religion’ as a charitable purpose (Third Sector)

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