(Sorry for the length of this comment, but I have a lot to say on one particular issue in the article.)
Does Trevor Phillips believe that paedophiles have more rights than fully consenting BDSM kinksters?
"Clair Lewis, National Convenor for CAAN, asked the EHRC why they view homosexuality as an orientation – but not, say, sado-masochism. For the EHRC, Director of Public Policy, Andrea Murray, argues that the EHRC is limited to what the law allows it to consider, and that by definition, “orientation” excludes bdsm: CAAN remain unconvinced and have indicated that they consider this to be ducking the question, that the only answer they have received to date is a hint from their Chair, Trevor Phillips that the difference lies in whether someone is "born that way” or makes a conscious choice."
Whether people are born BDSM-flavoured, or make a "conscious choice", doesn't change the fact that there's more to sexual diversity than that one dimension of straight-bi-lesbian/gay "orientation". (This is the point of the ice-cream flavours metaphor, after all. Vanilla is just one of many flavours, and there's always stuff like Neapolitan as well.) Sexual diversity isn't one-dimensional, but multi-dimensional. So even if the EHRC insist that BDSM doesn't count as an "orientation", it's still a part of sexual diversity. The EHRC aren't going to resolve this just by playing games with labels. It sounds like they're being as bigoted as the government.
But does the EHRC really take the view that someone has to be "born that way" in order to be protected from discrimination?
Just this evening, as I walked home, someone called me "Jesus" because of my long hair and beard. This happens from time to time. It's discrimination against me on the basis of my appearance. But was I "born that way"? Or is it a "conscious choice"? I am a man. I naturally grow hair, both on my head and on my face. And without intervention (shaving or hair-cuts), it naturally grows long. And I choose to let it grow. "Born that way"? Or "conscious choice"? (David Bowie was once long-haired.)
And what about bisexuality? If someone is bisexual, they might have a choice in whether or not to live as bisexual, or to live as if they're straight. What does the EHRC say then? Are such people "born that way" in that they are born with the ability to choose whether or not to bat for both teams? Or is it a "conscious choice" because they get to choose which team to bat for? (David Bowie was once bisexual.)
And what of women who make a "conscious choice" to become pregnant? Should they not be entitled to protection against employers who would sack them for it? Or since it was a "conscious choice"...?
As for BDSM, even if it is a "conscious choice" of whether to be of some kind of BDSM flavour or vanilla instead, is everyone "born that way"? Or are only some people born with that ability to choose what flavour to be? Is the EHRC going to deal with this in a way consistent with planned pregnancy, bisexuality and long-haired beardiness?
Returning to my question at the start of this comment, what about paedophiles? I gather that at least some paedophiles are "born that way". I don't know if that's true, but I would have thought that those able to make a "conscious choice" would almost always choose not to be paedophiles, since paedophiles are often regarded as the utter scum of the earth. If there are paedophiles who are "born that way", do Trevor Phillips and the EHRC believe that natural born paedophiles have more right to live as paedophiles than "conscious choice" BDSM kinksters have to engage in consensual activity between freely consenting adults?
Of course, there is a difference between someone being a paedophile (sexually attracted to children), and someone choosing to sexually abuse children. One might be "born that way" - a natural born paedophile - but it doesn't mean that they would have the right to make a "conscious choice" to sexually abuse children.
Similarly, there is a difference between being born lesbian or gay, and making a "conscious choice" to have consensual sex with people of the same sex. What's the difference between this and the case with paedophiles and sexual abuse of children? Obviously, it's a matter of consent: adults can consent, children can't. It's not a matter of whether someone's "born that way" or making a "conscious choice".
Trevor Phillips and the EHRC are wrong to think that it comes down to whether someone's "born that way" or makes a "conscious choice". That approach simply doesn't work. Instead, as should be clear from the comparison of paedophilia with homosexuality, it's a matter of consent. Those who consent to participate in BDSM are not like children being sexually abused or their abusers, but are the same as adults generally who consent to have consensual sex with other adults. It's just that there are more flavours than just vanilla. (And don't forget that straight vanilla sex is rape when it's without consent.)
I am not lesbian/gay or bisexual. I am straight. I am not into BDSM. I'm vanilla. I'm white, able-bodied, male, etc. Yet I can understand this stuff without much difficulty. If I can understand this stuff, then so can Trevor Phillips and the EHRC. They have no excuse for getting this wrong. They need to open their minds, listen to CAAN, and reconsider their attitudes - just as they expect other ignorant, prejudiced people to.