Italian city plans controversial social credit system

Italy’s seventh-largest city, Bologna, plans to introduce a “social credit” system to reward citizens’ good behavior, but critics warn of a potential dystopian scenario such as the one seen with China’s controversial social credit system.

The seat of the Emilia-Romagna region is developing an application that would reward those who demonstrate “desirable behavior” with so-called social credits. These behaviors coincide with general moral norms: citizens can earn points, for example, by following traffic rules, through optimal energy consumption or selective waste collection.

The name of the application is “Smart Citizen Wallet” and was unveiled at a press conference in Bologna on March 29 with the participation of Mayor Matteo Lepore. Massimo Bugani, director of the city’s “Digital Agenda,” also spoke at the event.

According to Bugani, the application can be seen as an investment towards the digital renewal of Bologna. The application is like Bologna getting a “new sewer system,” Bugani claimed, adding that more and more services will become digital in Italy in the coming years.

Currently, the legal status of the project is also questionable, as European Union directives do not allow mass collection of data from citizens.

In the Chinese social credit system, there are not only rewards, but also has penalties, such as restricted visa possibilities or higher taxes for “undesirable conduct,” all of it based on a set of criteria unknown to the public.

Same Sex Church marriages in Wales, hopefully within the next 5 years

Same-sex weddings could be held in churches in Wales in five years, the new archbishop has said.

The Most Rev Andrew John has said the church should be inclusive and “welcome people, where they are, who they are”.

Last year, the Church in Wales passed legislation meaning couples could have their civil partnership blessed.

It was carried by a two-thirds majority, to be used experimentally for five years, but individual clergy will decide whether to bless partnerships.

The new archbishop said he was “enormously heartened by that vote”.

“Although it wasn’t unanimous – it showed the Church in Wales has a common mind on this,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if, within that five-year period, we were once again talking about the marriage of same-sex couples,” he added.

Before that could take place, Andrew John said further discussion would be needed: “We need to make the journey and we then need to have the debate… and when we do that I think we’ll find ourselves looking back and thinking perhaps the concern or the trouble, real and sincere as it was, wasn’t a real problem.”

Same-sex marriages are not currently allowed by the Church of England or the Church of Scotland.

PROMIC Professionals for Medical Informed Consent and Non-Discrimination

PROMIC
Professionals for Medical Informed Consent and Non-Discrimination (PROMIC) is an umbrella group for organisations of health professionals, scientists and lawyers established in August 2021.

 

The founding organisations of PROMIC are the Alliance for Natural Health International and the UK Medical Freedom Alliance.

The two main objectives of PROMIC are to facilitate:

 

properly informed medical consent, especially in relation to COVID-19 vaccination and testing, and;

the avoidance of discrimination by governments authorities, institutions or private companies based on an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination or testing status.

These forms can be downloaded from the Exemption Forms page. https://www.promic.info

Maya Forstater, wins tribunal appeal over transgender tweets

 

A woman who lost her job after saying that people cannot change their biological sex has won an appeal against an employment tribunal.

Maya Forstater, 47, did not have her contract renewed after posting tweets on gender recognition.

She lost her original case at a tribunal in 2019, but a High Court judge ruled her “gender-critical” beliefs fell under the Equalities Act.

The appeal said the tribunal had erred in law and another should take place.

Ms Forstater, from St Albans in Hertfordshire, did not have her contract renewed at the think tank Center for Global Development (CGD) in March 2019, after posting a series of tweets questioning government plans – which were later scrapped – to let people declare their own gender.

She claimed she was discriminated against because of her beliefs, which include “that sex is immutable and not to be conflated with gender identity”.

In the initial tribunal employment judge James Tayler said that her approach was “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”.

He concluded that Ms Forstater was “absolutist” in her view and said she was not entitled to ignore the rights of a transgender person and the “enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering”.

But the Honourable Mr Justice Choudhury said her “gender-critical beliefs” did fall under the Equalities Act as they “did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons”.

Ms Forstater said she was “delighted to have been vindicated” but CGD said the decision was a “step backwards for inclusivity and equality for all”.

In a video statement, Ms Forstater said: “I’m proud of the role I’ve played in clarifying the law and encouraging more people to speak up”.

Amanda Glassman, executive vice president of CGD, said: “The decision is disappointing and surprising because we believe Judge Tayler got it right when he found this type of offensive speech causes harm to trans people, and therefore could not be protected under the Equality Act.

Maya Forstater won her case because the Employment Appeal Tribunal concluded that her belief that biological sex is real, important and immutable met the legal test of a genuine and important philosophical position that is protected under the UK’s equality laws.

The test for such a protection was that her belief touched on an important part of human life, would be accepted by others and – this is the important bit – could not be shown to be a direct attempt to harm others.

The appeal panel found that while her words were offensive to some, they fell far short of the violent and oppressive views of “Nazism or totalitarian”. There was not even any evidence that she had harassed anyone at work.

Where does this leave employers? Equality and employment law require them to recognise and uphold the rights of all in the workplace.

Ms Forstater’s speech and beliefs are protected – but so are the rights of trans people. And if speech crosses the line from an honestly held belief to bullying, attacks and intimidation, then the scales very obviously tip in favour of protecting the victim.

Covid-19: Vaccine passports ‘unethical’, church leaders warn Boris Johnson

More than 1,200 church leaders have urged PM Boris Johnson not to introduce Covid vaccine certificates, saying they are an “unethical form of coercion”.

In an open letter, the leaders – who include Anglican and Catholic ministers – warn passports could create a “surveillance state”.

The government says it is reviewing whether to use vaccine certificates and “no decisions have been taken”.

The UK equality watchdog says passports could create a “two-tier society”.

Government ministers have said that certificates would allow people to show if they have been vaccinated, had a negative test or had natural immunity from a confirmed infection in the previous six months.

A government spokesperson said: “We are considering a range of evidence around Covid-status certification and whether it may have a role in opening up higher risk settings safely. The review is ongoing and no decisions have been taken.”

The the open letter stated

The introduction of vaccine passports would constitute an unethical form of coercion and violation of the principle of informed consent. People may have various reasons for being unable or unwilling to receive vaccines currently available including, for some Christians, serious issues of conscience related to the ethics of vaccine manufacture or testing. We risk creating a two-tier society, a medical apartheid in which an underclass of people who decline vaccination are excluded from significant areas of public life. There is also a legitimate fear that this scheme would be the thin end of the wedge leading to a permanent state of affairs in which COVID vaccine status could be expanded to encompass other forms of medical treatment and perhaps even other criteria beyond that.

Finally, as Christian leaders we wish to state that we envisage no circumstances in which we could close our doors to those who do not have a vaccine passport, negative test certificate, or any other “proof of health”. For the Church of Jesus Christ to shut out those deemed by the state to be social undesirables would be anathema to us and a denial of the truth of the Gospel.

The government’s suggestion of vaccine certificates has united MPs from all sides of the Commons, with No 10 facing criticism from those in both Conservative and opposition parties.

More than 70 MPs railed against the plan earlier this month, arguing that demanding medical proof in order to take part in local community life, such as going to the pub, was discriminatory and divisive.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was “very worried” vaccine passports could lead to discrimination against people who have not received a jab.

High Court Ruling: Children under the age of 16, must convince a judge they understand the immediate and long-term consequences of taking puberty blockers

Children under 16 who want to undergo gender reassignment must now convince a judge they understand the “immediate and long-term consequences” of the process before taking puberty blockers, a landmark ruling said today.
The High Court has decided a child must be able to “understand, retain, and weigh” the factors involved in the process, including the implications of surgery and loss of fertility which may follow in the future.
Three top judges, Dame Victoria Sharp – sitting with Lord Justice Lewis and Mrs Justice Lieven said the courts must weigh up whether the child can go ahead with the treatment, but said it is “very doubtful” 14 and 15-year olds will now be able to give consent and “highly unlikely” 13-year-olds could satisfy the test.
The ruling comes after a legal challenge by Keira Bell, a 23-year-old woman who began taking puberty blockers when she was 16 before “detransitioning”, and the mother of a 16-year-old autistic girl who is currently on the waiting list for treatment.
The case was brought against Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust,
which said it was “disappointed” but immediately suspended such referrals for under-16s.

The NHS said it “welcomed the clarity” the ruling would bring.
One of the claimants, Keira Bell, said she was “delighted” by the judgment.

Christian school worker takes her dismissal fight to tribunal

A Christian school assistant who was sacked for posting on Facebook about plans to teach LGBT relationships in primary schools is taking her case to an employment tribunal.

Kristie Higgs, 44, was dismissed for gross misconduct by Farmor’s School in Fairford, Gloucestershire last year.

The mother-of-two shared and commented on Facebook posts which raised concerns about relationship education at her son’s Church of England primary school.

Mrs Higgs, who was posting on Facebook under her maiden name, shared two posts in October 2018.

In one Facebook post, Mrs Higgs urged people to sign an online petition against making relationships education mandatory.

In another she shared an article about the rise of transgender ideology in children’s books in American schools.

The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Mrs Higgs’s case at the employment tribunal, which is starting in Bristol on Monday.

Lawyers representing Mrs Higgs will argue that her sacking breached her freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Ahead of the hearing, Mrs Higgs said: “Nothing could have prepared me for what happened. I was told that the reasons behind my sacking were nothing to do with my Christian beliefs – it had everything to do with my Christian beliefs.

“The whole experience broke my heart. I have been punished for sharing concerns about relationships and sex education.

“My number one concern has always been the effect that learning about sex and gender in school will have on children at such a young age. I have not discriminated against anyone.

“Through my case I want there to be renewed freedom for others, especially Christians, to express their beliefs and opinions without fear of losing their jobs.”

by Rod Minchin

RSE Victory for Parental Rights – for now

Roger Kiska on the government’s announcement that schools can delay their introduction of Relationships and Sex Education
September 2020 is just around the corner, at which time the government’s new regulations on Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) will take force. If you are not yet familiar with the new regulations, Christian Concern has put together this video to guide you through what will be taught and what may be taught. The regulations will apply to all schools in England, regardless of whether your child’s school is maintained or independent.
However, one of the fundamental statutory requirements put in place under the regulations to safeguard parental rights is that schools must consult parents when drafting their school’s RSE policy, which includes informing parents of what is to be taught their children. To be clear, while the Department for Education, in guidance it released in October 2019 refers to this process as ‘parental engagement’, the law could not be any more clear that no less than consultation should take place. This means that your ability to give feedback should be robust and that the school must give due regard to the views of parents during the consultation process. Anything less would be a breach of the school’s statutory duty towards your rights.
Department for Education Delays Start of RSE
In a victory for parental rights, the Department for Education has now announced that while the new regulations making RSE compulsory will still take effect from September 2020, schools will nevertheless be able to delay introducing it into their pupils until Summer term 2021. The Department made their decision because of the impact of the coronavirus restrictions on education and how it has hampered the ability of schools to consult parents about their RSE policies.
We therefore encourage parents to write their children’s schools asking when those consultations will take place; letting them know that you support a delayed roll out of RSE given the short time frame between now and September.
The team at the Christian Legal Centre has put together the following draft letter to assist parents in engaging with their schools:

Dear [Headteacher Name],
I write this letter on behalf of my son/daughter, [child’s name], in Year [R-6].
I understand that from September 2020, new regulations requiring that relationships education be taught in the school will take force but that schools may delay beginning RSE until the summer term of 2021 as per the announcement of the Department for Education on 04 June 2020.
I am also aware that as a statutory pre-condition to relationships education being taught my child, the school must consult with parents as to the contents of the school’s RSE policy and what it intends to teach my child.
Would you please let me know when that consultation will be taking place and what materials will be used as part of the teaching of relationships education?
I am aware that time is of the essence because of how close we are to September 2020. Given the potential impact of how and what will be taught as part of relationships education on the manner in which I choose to raise my child in accordance with my Christian faith, I would urge the school to take the extension granted by the Department for Education to fully assess the needs of parents and ensure a robust consultation process.
Kind regards,
[Parent(s) name]

There is strength in numbers! Please act now for the benefit of our children.
Know Your Rights
As a helpful guide about your rights, it is important to note that schools do not have unfettered discretion in deciding on the content of RSE classes. In fact, schools are bound by numerous statutory requirements governing what and how they select material to be presented as part of RSE:
The material must be age appropriate [Section 34(3) of the Children and Social Welfare Act 2017];
The material must have due regard for the religious background of the pupils [also Section 34(3) of the Children and Social Welfare Act 2017];
The process in which the material is chosen and taught must respect the manner in which parents wish to raise their children in accordance with their own religious and philosophical convictions [Protocol 1, Article 2, European Convention on Human Rights];
The material cannot indoctrinate as to sensitive moral issues; i.e. any material chosen and the manner in which it is taught must be critical, objective and pluralistic [Kjeldsen, Busk Madsen and Pedersen v Denmark, Judgment, Merits, App No 5095/71 (A/23), [1976] ECHR 6, IHRL 15 (ECHR 1976), 7th December 1976, European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR]];
The material, and the way it is selected must have due regard to the school’s public sector equality duty to promote good relations among those with different protected characteristics, meaning that the school must have due regard not to cause offense or discord to parents of a faith background [Section 149(1)(c) Equality Act 2010];
Schools must consult with parents when drafting and amending their RSE policies [Section 80B(3) Education Act 2002; Section 2A(f) Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014];
Regard must be given to the principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with their parents’ wishes [Section 9, Education Act 1996];
The pursuit or promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject is forbidden [Section 406, Education Act 1996].
LGBT elements are not required to be taught as part of Primary school Relationships Education [Nick Gibb, Minister for School Standards, Parliamentary Question Period 25 June 2019].

Christian Concern

Relationship Sex Education lessons in primary schools are being reviewed amid complaints.

There are growing concerns with guidance given for Relationship Sex Education “RSE”.
Kent and Barnsley councils are withdrawing on transgender issues in schools. In an email exchange with a concerned citizen, TEP’s Gille Heath said:
“In response to questions raised as to the legality of the Guidance, this was taken down on 15 May and is now under review.”

Last week, Shropshire County Council withdrew its own controversial guidance on transgenderism for schools and colleges and asked them to stop using the advice.
The document, ‘Guidance for schools and colleges on transgender and supporting transgender pupils’, said that pupils should have the “right” to use the toilets which match their so-called gender identity,
and should be allowed to access the changing rooms of the opposite sex.

Earlier this month, Oxfordshire Council’s ‘Trans Inclusion Toolkit for Schools 2019’ was also withdrawn amid pressure from parents and an impending court case.
In March, lawyers representing Warwickshire County Council told The Christian Institute that it was dropping its explicit and misleading All About Me programme following the Institute’s threat of legal action.

The Minister for Equalites and Women, Elizabeth Truss, Speaks

The Minister for Women and Equalities has confirmed that single-sex spaces will be protected when any changes are made to gender recognition law.

Liz Truss MP was responding to a letter from Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, who had raised concerns about the distortion of the “traditional rights to privacy, dignity, personal identity and honour” of women and girls.
The Equalities Office is set to outline its plans for changes to the law in the summer, following a consultation which took place in 2018 but it has faced a number of delays because it has proven “divisive”.

‘Clear message’
In her response, Truss wrote: “I am grateful to you for raising your concerns. I have made my commitment to protecting single sex spaces for women and girls clear.
“As part of this work I will ensure that Government guidance gives a clear message to service providers, schools and others, putting their ability to provide single sex spaces beyond doubt.
“I will be able to say more about this important issue when I publish the Government’s response to the Gender Recognition Act consultation in the summer.”

Irreversible treatments
Last month, Truss announced several changes to gender law, including restricting irreversible treatments for under-18s, to mixed response.
She suggested that under-18s may soon be prevented from having sex-change surgery, that single-sex spaces would be protected, and that transgender adults should be free “to lead their lives as they see fit”, but did not provide any detail on how the Government would proceed.