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‘New law will compel churches to offer same-sex marriages’

By on Friday, 20 April 2012

Neil Addison, director of the Thomas More Legal Centre (Photo: Simon Caldwell)

Neil Addison, director of the Thomas More Legal Centre (Photo: Simon Caldwell)

David Cameron will not be able to exempt the Churches from a duty to offer marriages to gay couples, a senior Catholic barrister has warned.

Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, said that the Prime Minister’s assurances to the Church that they would not be compelled to perform religious marriage for gay couples are worthless.

He said two judgments by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg combined with a Court of Appeal ruling in 2010 clearly showed that the Government would be acting illegally if it legalised civil gay marriages without permitting them on religious premises too.

It means that if the Coalition Government presses ahead with its plans to redefine marriage to include gay couples the Catholic Church could face prosecution under equality legislation for acting according with its teachings.

“The Government will be obliged to permit same-sex marriage on religious premises on exactly the same basis as it permits heterosexual marriage,” said Mr Addison, a specialist in religious discrimination law.

“How this will affect the rights of Churches who are registered for marriage and in particular how it will affect the Church of England and its clergy who are registrars of marriage by virtue of their status as priests of the established Church is legally very arguable,” he said.

“Certainly a good legal case can be made that any place or person who is registered to perform marriage must be willing to perform same-sex marriage on the same basis as they conduct heterosexual marriage since, in law, there will be no difference between the two.”

Mr Addison’s legal opinion is sharply at odds with the Government’s assurances, included in its consultation document launched last month, that a new law would “make no changes to religious marriages”.

“This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman,” the document said.

But Mr Addison argues that a recent European Court of Human Rights case involving two French lesbians found that, although there is no human rights obligation for any country to legislate for gay marriage, once a state had passed a gay marriage law it must be applied to all citizens equally.

The ruling upheld the findings of an earlier case involving a homosexual who had sued the Austrian government.

Mr Addison said: “What the Government assurance is ignoring is the fact that, in law, there is no difference between and no status for civil as opposed to religious marriage – both are in law the same thing and merely take place in different premises.”

He said the position of the Churches had already been undermined by a ruling of the Court of Appeal ruling against the registrar Lillian Ladele who in 2009 had taken Islington Council to court for refusing her the right not to officiate at same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.

The judges decided that her orthodox Christian view of marriage “was not a core part of her religion”.

Mr Addison said: “Churches which perform heterosexual marriages will have to be willing to perform same-sex marriages and they will have no legal grounds to resist since the courts have determined that the ‘orthodox Christian view of marriage’ is not a ‘core’ part of Christian belief.”

The remarks of Mr Addison came as British Muslims grew increasingly vocal against the proposals.

Dr Majid Katme, the head of the Islamic Medical Association, called on Britain’s two million Muslims to form “a holy alliance” with Christians and others against the proposals.

“Marriage in Islam is only between a man and a woman,” said Dr Katme. “This is the belief of the two million British Muslim believers and the belief of about 30 million Muslims who live in western Europe.

“It is the same belief of 1,600 million Muslims in the world,” he said. “It is the same belief also in the holy teachings of Judaism and Christianity.”

He continued: “The time has come to establish a holy alliance of all faiths with those sensible people who are without faith in order to oppose gay marriage in any new law.”

He urged Muslims to sign Lord Carey’s Coalition for Marriage petition which has already attracted about 450,000 signatories opposed to gay marriage, making it one of the largest petitions in British history.

The words of Dr Katme were substantially stronger than the statement issued by the Muslim Council of Britain, which last month had described the Government’s case as “strikingly weak”.

The Council of Glasgow Imams was also more forthright, saying that a gay marriage law would be an “attack” on their faith and said Muslims should not vote for candidates who favour changes in the forthcoming local elections.

“There is no scope for compromise on this issue and we simply say this: no to same-sex marriage,” the imams said.

All the mainstream Christian churches are opposed to the proposals, with Catholics urged by their bishops to do all they can to resist them.

  • Benedict Carter

    Voris is very good.

  • john.laperuta

    Same sex marriage is a joke..what is the point of same sex marriage?For two people to be able to legally masturbate each other?These marriages are a farce..they cannot produce life nor sustain a society.The Churches do have a legal right to disobey..it is discriminatory upon ones faith and goes against the Laws of the Supreme Authority.The Catholic church has existed for over 2000 yrs and the institute of marriage is even older.Just because some twisted corrupt politicians were paid off by some minority group pf perverts to change the laws to suit them does not make it right or acceptable.Unfortunately we are in the times that were prophesied..the coming persecution of the church and all religious.It is in it’s infant stages right now..but escalating.Eventually the Church will be forced underground and the cockroaches will rejoice and think they have won..and then the darkness will be dispelled and they will have no where to run or hide from God.

  • Chris Manchester

    Pointing out a spelling mistake eh?  Classic deflecting tactic from someone losing an argument. And Andrew’s argument of the ‘inexorable’ nature of change regarding same-sex relationships is sound.  This is because it is based, as he says, on an ever better scientific understanding of sexuality.  Just as with the ‘flat-earthers’ and the geocentrists of old, the protesters will rage, but eventually civilization will look back, laugh and wonder incredulously,  ‘how did people ever believe such homophobic nonsense!’

  • Rt2Life

    This is one of the reasons Englanders left their Country before – religious persecution

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Oh, I can’t resist this! Go on, explain -at least in broad terms- what you think science has discovered about the nature of sexuality that should compel us to change our evaluation of homosexual activity. (And don’t forget to explain how science has solved the relationship of facts and values while you’re there.)

    And once you’ve done that, could you explain how the drive for gay marriage fits into the dominant paradigm for academic study of homosexuality which is that of queer theory? I mean, I thought Judith Butler and Foucault were some sorts of constructivists about sexual identity, but anyway I look forward to learning from you on this.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LYGUGSPODDFQALP7DZO5VECZDI Therese Z

    who precisely is forcing an innocent child into becoming the property of a gay marriage? The “couple” (a pair is the accurate term, since they are not opposites) cannot have children the biologically correct way, so they must buy them in one way or another, by finding sperm, or a surrogate, or adopting them into a house that psychologists say is not the healthiest environment, since the child never experiences the proper complementarity of two sexes as parents.

  • Sszorin

    Further comment and clarification. 
    The last sentence in the previous comment is a bit over the top. If you are just a thoughtless follower and a naive propagator of the ideas of jewish-communistic program for mankind then disregard the comment. You just need an education. Further links [click on the links on the site to know more].http://mailstar.net/trotsky.html http://www.mailstar.net/engagement.html The society is destroyed not only by way of destruction of family through perversion of sexual norms and identity. The moral-sexual code flows from the religion, from the work of Word of God and his Church. The religion will have to be abolished too, by first putting it in the cage of private life and out of the public square and then by regulating and legislating against it. First it has to be ridiculed and discredited. The sexual upheaval/revolution with the corresponding promotion of “the rights” of the depraved and the misgendered at the expense of the rights of the common people and the “secularization” of society go together hand in hand, inseparable. One leans on another. http://www.mailstar.net/freud.html 
    http://www.darkmoon.me/ 
    http://mailstar.net/religion.html 

  • Chris Manchester

    I wonder who this ‘us’ is who have carried out an ‘evaluation’ on homosexual activity. 

     Anyway, leaving that aside, in broad terms scientific study (in particular in the field of pre-natal brain development) points increasingly to the conclusion (long known by most gay people themselves) that same-sex attraction is something one is born with.  Added to this is the fact that same-sex behaviour has been observed as consistently and predictably reoccurring feature in over 1,500 species of animal, including homo sapiens’ closest neighbours. This completely reverses the argument often used against gay people that. ‘animals don’t do it’, and further points to its being a naturally occurring phenomenon.  

    Non of this ‘compels’ anyone to change their views on homosexuality. But to continue to unjustly discriminate in the face of such evidence is rather like discriminating against left-handed people or red-heads.

    Showing off that you’ve heard about Queer Theory doesn’t impress me, but I will say that to my knowledge it is no longer in fact the dominant paradigm for gay studies and there is a call to return to a way of studying the reality of gay people based on their actual experience.  

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    1) Your ‘scientific’ evidence, even if true, amounts to nothing more that the observation that there’s a lot of homosexual activity around and it might be difficult to get rid of. (Same can be said of lots of vices.) That says nothing about whether it’s a good or bad thing for societies or individuals. (Which isn’t surprising because those aren’t scientific questions but questions of ethics.) The analogy you draw between left handedness and homosexuality is ill chosen. Your attitude to the other sex is clearly of rather more social and ethical importance than your attitude to how you hold a pair of scissors.

    2) You’re wrong about the current place of queer theory in the academic study of homosexuality. I’m not sure how we can test this, but I’ve just tried googling ‘gay studies’ and certainly the first few entries (actually all I can be bothered clicking on to) are pretty obviously dominated by queer theory. (Your remark about ‘actual experience’ is a canard: queer theory equally supposes itself to be doing that and Butler and Foucauld are/were both homosexual.) It is in any case clear that it remains a major element in gay studies and one that certainly doesn’t support your naive scientism and unquestioning endorsement of same sex marriage.

    In short, your talk about ‘scientific understanding’ is just so much hand waving. You cannot move in any straightforward way from scientific observation of behaviour to ethical conclusions about the rightness or wrongness of that behaviour. Catholics know that. Queer theorists know that. In fact, most sensible people know that. The fact that you don’t reveals your posts to be grandstanding rather than substantial contributions to the debate.

  • nytor

    I’m not sure that “my enemy’s enemy” is necessary my friend, though, even on this one.

    I am not in favour of gay marriage, but as a lawyer myself I do think that the above barrister’s reading of the situation is unlikely to prove correct. Freedom of religion and belief is protected by the ECHR as much as the right to private and family life. Furthermore, a right to marry (as per divorcees) does not equal a right to religious marriage. I just cannot see how any legal claim by a gay couple to force a church to marry them could ever succeed.

  • nytor

    “a ruling of the Court of Appeal ruling against the registrar Lillian Ladele who in 2009 had taken Islington Council to court for refusing her the right not to officiate at same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.
    The judges decided that her orthodox Christian view of marriage “was not a core part of her religion”.”

    Yes, IN HER CASE, as she was willing to marry divorcees. I cannot see that the same logic would be applied in a case seeking to force a church to marry a gay couple.

  • Benedict Carter

    Agree entirely.

  • Chris Manchester

    Yes, I suspected it that was that ‘us’.  That would be the same infallible ‘us’ the wrongdoings, errors and persecutions of which Pope John Paul II felt the need to apologise to many groups and individuals for: women, Muslims, Jews, Galileo, victims of Church persecution etc.

    I also suspect that for as long as same-sex behaviour is characterised by Catholics or anyone else as ‘unnatural’ and therefore ‘wrong’  (exactly the leap you criticize me for making) then gay people will continue to respond that, in fact, the evidence points to its being quite natural and therefore at least arguably ‘good’ for those who find themselves born that way. 

    I find your mention of ‘getting rid’ of homosexuality rather sinister.  

  • Benedict Carter

    Chris, you’re off your head. 

    The man claims a democratic mandate for this abomination, and says that the anti-homosexual “marriage” movement isn’t gathering any signatures. It has already gathered more signatures than there are homosexuals in Britain. So you have lost the democratic vote, haven’t you? By your own argument – you’ve lost!

  • Benedict Carter

    You lot just want your cake and eat it. We ALL have to face the reality of sin. Why don’t you homosexuals feel that this applies to you?

  • Sszorin

    There was a scientific study done years ago by the East German scientists that confirmed that SOME cases/numbers of ‘the homosexuals’ are due to the pathological causes, due to the abnormal levels of male or female hormones in the mother’s organism during a pregnancy which affected the pre-natal development of brain. A lot of the causes of the hormonal imbalance in women is due to the exposure to the chemical pollution by male/androgen and female/estrogen hormonal disruptors. These disruptors are man made chemicals prevalent in the human and natural environment due to the careless activity of the chemical industries and due to the lack of proper overseeing and regulation of them. The Germans claimed that they were successful in reversing the slide of the preborn individual into the sexual defect by regulating the levels of hormones in pregnant women by medication and by injecting the hormones into the amniotic fluid around the fetus. All this became controversial, “the homo” community was howling protests about “the genocide of the homosexuals”, about “the german nazi science” and at the same time claiming illogically that the homosexuals are not born, they are not made by defective DNA or defective brain structure and chemistry, but instead they are made by “choice” later in life. Here is the problem, if one becomes a follower of the perverted sexual practice by a choice then others can say that “the choice” in question is immoral, harmful to the individual, his family and to community at large. His/her choice is wrong and sinful and should be legislated against like pedophilia or drunk driving is legislated against. If on the other hand the causes of the sexual deviancy are pathological and as a result of the external factors like the chemical poisoning of the environment then “the homosexual condition” is an affliction like any other illness and has to be treated by the medical science. Even against the will of the afflicted individual or his/her parents. The cases of the blood transfusions being resisted by the Jehovah’s witnesses come to mind. Also, consider the cases of cancer caused by the fibres of the asbestos in buildings. In neither case is “being a homosexual” a normal state of an individual’s existence.
    My view is that the community of “the sexually different” consists of the mix of the both the deformed and the depraved groups. The deformed group can be thinned out by a proper medication. The science is advancing and soon, maybe even now, we can try brain corrective surgeries. The depraved group is the result of the abnormal psycho-sexual development of the individuals which can be straightened out by therapy and reeducation. Then we will not have “gay marriages” forced upon us.

  • Sszorin
  • Scared observer

    Last time I have checked, England was a Christian country where the Monarch was the head of the official Church. Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when the Christians in this country must to call on Muslims to save us from the perversions of our own society?

  • http://www.facebook.com/gary.lindsay.oracle Gary Lindsay

    Permitting marriages is not the same as compelling.  As usual, the anti-Gay side in this debate is hysterical – in both senses of the word.

  • Benedict Carter

    As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, ALL of us are sinners bound by the moral law and all of us have to “work out our Salvation with fear and trembling”.

    Why can homosexuals you think Chris not accept this?