Balancing individual rights with societal rights and the common good

Individual rights are trumping societal rights.  The tail is wagging the dog.

Since the Nuremberg trials for Nazi atrocities in WWII, individual rights have risen up the agenda, but now the pendulum has swung too far to the detriment of societal rights.

We cannot each have bus routes and bus stops outside our home.  Individual rights must be balanced with the common good.  Philosophers argue among themselves about balancing utilitarianism, popularly quoted as ‘the greatest amount of good for the greatest number’, and individual rights, but having failed to resolve the issue we now have public policy lurching from one extreme to the other.

The latest example is the Government consultation on ‘reform’ of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which closed at midday today after an extension from last Friday.  The GRA 2004 gave certain individuals the right to change the gender on their birth certificate.  This consultation is about how to make this process easier.

Like the Holyrood and Westminster consultations on redefining marriage, this consultation ignores children and families in general.

Children have generally been ignored in consultations about marriage, and this occurs yet again here. The spouse’s view is important not only for their own sake but also as representing any children from the marriage, but the intention is to by-pass them.

The consultation builds on the weakness in the Equality Act 2010, which uses subjective definitions instead of objective criteria, legalising a lie in order to satisfy the subjective opinions and feelings of certain individuals.  Self-identification is the ultimate in subjective opinion. In this case, the lie is changing one’s birth certificate and hiding one’s birth gender.

The Scottish Christian Party response is available here.  It draws attention to:

  1. The Equality Act 2010 is itself unequal as case law has demonstrated a pecking order of equalities.
  2. The law cannot be based on subjective opinions but must have objective criteria and legislation should be based upon objective standards.
  3. Public policy cannot satisfy nor accommodate everybody’s wishes.
  4. Changing one’s birth certificate is not a human right.
  5. A birth certificate is part of public policy.
  6. The birth certificate is how society identifies the biological sex of a child at birth.
  7. Whatever one’s later opinion about gender does not alter what happened at birth.
  8. Hiding one’s birth gender by changing one’s birth certificate is legalising a lie.
  9. The lack of transparency by changing one’s birth certificate is open to a host of unintended consequences.
  10. the whole purpose of changing the birth certificate is to hide one’s birth gender, yet transparency is important in the armed services.
  11. The recent Supreme Court decision Lee (Respondent) v Ashers Baking Company Ltd and others (Appellants) (Northern Ireland) shows the confusion in the public mind, the judiciary, the prosecuting and police services about the application of Equality Act 2010 to public services. This is because of the subjective definitions and standards incorporated into the Equality Act 2010 and it will take time for these to unravel.
    It is premature to make the same mistake with respect to gender, which will impact across the whole of public and private life. It will prove extremely costly in financial, psychological and social terms.
  12. Homosexuals are proud to declare their sexuality but the request to change a birth certificate appears to be an attempt to hide one’s sexuality.
  13. Whatever may be an individual’s desire, public policy cannot legislate for a lie.
  14. Public policy must rely on objective facts and not on subjective opinions nor feelings.
  15. Introducing an intersex category will add to the confusion by continuing to incorporate subjective opinions into legislation which should be based upon objective standards.
  16.  Individual rights should not overthrow societal rights. “No man is an island.” Individual rights are the tail which is wagging the dog of societal right.
  17. the ignoring of children and families: individual rights and the individual, including children, are more important than families and even societal rights.

A discussion of the relationship between rights and duties will need to wait for another blogpost.  Briefly, for every right there is a corresponding duty.  Our selfish society spends more time on its rights than on its duties, and individual rights is a manifestation of the individual selfishness of ungodly human beings.

It is time to recover our duty to God and to our neighbour.

‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ Mat 22:37-39.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

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