The Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill, which was submitted by the Conservative MP John Glen is treated as the last discriminatory law against gay people in UK. It would address a reference in maritime shipping law that includes “homosexual acts” as grounds for dismissal from the crew of merchant ships. Gay sex in Navy was decriminalized in 1994, so current measure cancelling is rather formal and symbolic.
Submitting the bill Mr. Glen said: : “When it comes to employment, in the merchant navy or anywhere else, what matters is a person’s ability to do the job—not their gender, age, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. Many will be surprised—astonished, even—to learn that this anomaly still remains on the statute book. There is no place in our society today for employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, through which one provision applies to heterosexual individuals and another to homosexual individuals. The Bill repeals the now defunct provision that authorised the dismissal of a merchant seaman on the grounds of homosexual conduct. It is the last such provision penalising homosexual activity that remains on our statute book, and it should be removed.” He continued: “By removing the distinction and applying the provisions to all individuals, passing the Bill will affirm this House’s commitment to justice and equality and show that there is no place in society for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. What matters in employment is the ability to do the job, nothing else. And what matters in society is how you can contribute and serve others, not your background, race or sexuality. Our statute book is complex enough without the retention of defunct and superseded provisions. Apart from anything else, this Bill is a useful tidying-up exercise to make the status of the current law regarding employment discrimination absolutely clear, and, as I have explained, it gives important reassurance to anyone who might be concerned about an apparent provision in our law.”