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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

    The institutional Church will NEVER formally descend into heresy, although I grant there are many Churchmen in our perverted days who do. 

  • teigitur

    Its hardly ” many Irish people” Damo . In the last Census 84% self identified as Roman Catholic. ( Though reading Ms Ingle in the IT at the time, youd think everyone was an Atheist) Some will be cultural of course. But to date ( thought it seems to be suspended) only 12,000 people wished to be ” counted out”. Tiny %, Damo, not, ” Many”. Sorry to play you at your own game and get hung up on numbers!! lol

  • Hamish Redux

    If this dreadful state of affairs come to pass, homosexual liasons are regarded as “marriages”, and they are legally allowed to have them on church premises (some big “if”s there), then there is one way that churches may have to react.  Designate part of the church as a secular premises, officially deconsecrated, on which the legalistic bits of a marriage ceremony — signing the registers, basically — can take place. There will be no religious service for those who are not marrying according to the traditions of religion, simply a secular ceremony.

  • Hamish Redux

     So you’re a Protestant. Rather a long-winded way of saying so, eh?

  • Hamish Redux

     One of the first tenets of Christian faith is that Man is above the animals. Praying mantises eat their husbands after sex, but just try doing that in Manchester and see what happens.

  • JabbaPapa

    You remind me of those who claimed that civil unions would not lead to “gay marriage”, women priests not lead to women bishops, and the common european currency not lead to centralised financial rule.

  • James E. Unger

    Totalitarianistic forced hedonism by the so-called liberals serving Satan.    It’s about time that the Churches stop accommodating and actually judge what is moral and not.   “They” will hate you, even if you don’t say a peep.

  • Charles Martel

     God only knows wot you’re on about…

  • Pray2ourlady

    The solution is simple.Christian churches simply refuse to perform any marriages. Couples will be forced to be married civilly. Then the practicing Christian couple can have their marriage solemnized privately, either in a church or a rectory. This has already been done in many countries that do not recognize or forbid religious practices. The State can compel people to be married civilly but it cannot forbid Christians, so far, to abide by the tenets of their Faith. For some Christians you are not married unless it is witnessed by a priest or deacon. If this fails, the Church will go underground, as it is in China.

  • Chris Manchester

    I agree.  The Church is ultimately free to refuse to marry ANYONE for civil/legal recognition purposes if it so chooses.  This is why Mr Addison’s claim that a new law would ‘compel’ churches to provide same-sex services is unfounded and in my opinion scaremongering.  If push comes to shove the Church has the ultimate option  of such non-cooperation, and there is nothing the state can do about that (which it knows).

  • jausten2

    The Catholic Church and Islam are NEVER going to support Gay marriage which is our right.  So go to the MANY churches that support gay marriage. 

    By the way, the Catholic Church does not spend all its efforts running down Gays…in fact the issue has NEVER been brought up once in church. My former friends who were gay are “former” because all they would do is run down the Catholic Church and attack everything I believe in all day long…so I guess Gays only believe in tolerance when you accept their beliefs hook line and sinker.  And believe me…they felt they deserved jobs and special rights just on the basis of being GAY.I don’t support everything I hear about in other religions but I don’t attack is their right.  It’s called Freedom of Religion.  Get over it!

  • Manuel Fernandes

    “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Galileo

  • Manuel Fernandes

    “their kind” ?!  :-o

  • Bernadette ood1

    thank you.Ii saw this article reproduced in CF News the online news site of the national association of catholic families. It was just what I needed to draft my reply to the letter my MP wrote to me

  • Oconnord

    Ha! Well spotted.

  • Nat_ons

    That is a slight misunderstanding of the point being made, I suspect. For you seek to have the church catholic to disengage easily and dramatically from its right of participation in public life .. returning to a private-life-only group. The law, as it stands today, permits the full and active participation of the Church in public affairs (as it has formally since Constantine) .. such as, today, that of affirming the legal status of a marriage contract for the State – this would change fundamentally: the church becoming no more than a social club. Thus, while the sacramental character of marriage in covenant would remain a teaching that binds believers, the legitimizing authority would revert to the State’s rites alone in public and private .. as in Communist Russia, Nazi Germany, Enlightenment France; such a barbarous and pre-Constantinian status for the church catholic would be revolutionary indeed (in a State that still has, technically at least, an established Christian church with a sovereign – and monarch governed – authority).

  • taynia rasberry

    every species is also known to kill and cannibalize its own…that does not make the behavior any less aberrant.  How ignorant to equate moral issues that are found within the only species which HAS any morality one way or another with what are minority animal behaviors. We ARE unique in creation and are more than just our “animal” bits. Try again, mate.

  • Oconnord

    Numerically small, undoubted, but culturally, a huge number. To use a provocative comparison, 12,000 is about three times the number of people who died in 30 years of the Troubles. It’s also about a quarter of the entire muslim population in Ireland.  

    The fact that it happened in Ireland at all was something that could not even have been conceived of 40 years ago. 

    I didn’t read that article in the IT, (if you have a link, I’ll remedy that), but the census has thrown up some interesting numbers. Those claiming “no religion” ( which would include 5 out of my 6 family members), rose by 45% in five years. It was a rise from 35% in the previous five years. Interestingly the number of people who self identify as atheist on the census is still tiny at about 4,000, but that is an increase of 320%.

    Once you add in the figures from, say, the recent ACP survey and the fact that mass attendance in some Dublin parishes is down to 5%, it seems pretty easy to see that the people are not running towards the church.  

  • Oconnord

    Would have been if I had been saying I was a Protestant, which I obviously wasn’t. 

  • teigitur

    Interestingly the errant Priests survey also threw up that 51% of people attend Mass at least once a month. Of course the figures vary hugely from place to place. Given all that has gone on there and the “kamikaze” attitude of Church authorities there, the fact that anyone still identifies themselves as Catholic, or goes near a Church, is a miracle.

  • Oconnord

    To nitpick a little, people are well known to over-report their mass attendance in those surveys, but 50% is a plausible figure. The problem I had with that survey was that there was a break down by geography but not by age. If they are to in anyway be used to indicate future “trends” they need to include the ages of those who attend mass.

  • teigitur

    Thats true. I think there would be no doubt that most congregations trend towards the older folks. With the notable exception of the Latin Mass in Dublin,as I have seen first hand.

  • HuwwuH

    If the person making the statement truly understood what ecclesia means and its safeguard against even the gates of Hades. Then the so called gay marriage would be of little if any consequence. Ignorance breeds fear and fear replaces trust as the principle by which men live. This article proves the point.

  • Paulywalnuts1965

    Any attempt to redefine marriage must be resisted.  I for one am all in favour of the alliance called for on this issue.  People of faith must band together to protect their interests and safeguard society from degenerates and politicians who attempt to subvert the will of the majority. Such politicians should be handed their walking papers without further ado or compensation of any sort.   It is their arrogance which prompts them to ignore the will of the people and seek to overturn long cherished family values and normative concepts of morality.

  • Chris Manchester

     On the contrary, I agree with you entirely, understand perfectly the implications of  such a withdrawal by the Church and do not wish it.  But…if we accept Mr Addison’s argument then there could come a point when the Catholic Church in the UK is legally compelled to provide a religious marriage service to two people of the same sex, on church premises and on the same basis as it is offered to opposite sex couples.  It would then face a choice of refusing and taking the consequences or, as ‘Pray to our Lady’ commented, refuse to marry anyone.  A similar crisis point was reached with Catholic adoption agencies, and of course the agencies decided to close to everyone rather than comply.  No government would want to be responsible for introducing legislation that forced the Church into such a position.  The public backlash would be unprecedented. It will not be allowed to come to that, Mr Addison knows this and therefore my point stands: he is scaremongering.

  • Oconnord

    Which god?

  • Chris Manchester

    “Look at the birds of air…yet your heavenly father feeds them” (Matt 6:26).

    How ignorant of Jesus to illustrate the moral issue of the love of money with an example drawn from animal behaviour.

  • HapHarris

    Seems to me this discussion has taken a wrong turn.  People telling each other to “shut-up” truly sounds Christian / Catholic to me.  Our Lady warned us these are the “Last Days.”  What’s to be surprised about-?  We simply say “NO” to Evil.  She told us that in these “Last Day” only She can help us.  She cautioned us to Pray the Rosary and Wear the Brown Scapular.  Our Popes and Our Bishops have consistently refused to “Consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”  In spite what you have been told this has never happened with the Pope and all Bishops, in Concert; Which was requested by God, Delivered by Our Mother, Herself at Fatima, Certified by the Great Miracle of the Sun and witnessed by more than 70,000 people-!  Then came Judas Council II.  Through this Council the Church of Rome joined itself to Modernism as was foretold by Pope Pius X. We stand where we stand because we ignored God’s Own Request-!!   IT IS FAR PAST TIME FOR ALL CATHOLICS TO PETITION THE POPE AND ALL THEIR BISHOPS, AND MAKE A FORCEFUL, BUT PIUS REQUEST TO COMPLETELY REVEAL THE CONTENTS OF THE THIRD SECRET & MAKE HAST TO CONSECRATE RUSSIA IMMEDIATELY.  St.Paul predicted all these things in II THESSALONIANS.  And here we are just as he forewarned-!!  If you are truly a Catholic you’ll get to it at once.   GOD LOVE YOU-!!!

  • Oconnord

    Isn’t that just a silly “slippery slope argument”……. Politically motivated muslims are liable to try and force the catholic church to serve them the host in communion. Priests will be forced to absolve the sins of hindus in confession. 

    You simply are obtuse to the difference between the religious rite as opposed to legal entitlement. And you just ignore the fact that the state already does not interfere with religious marital ceremonies. Need I mention that a muslim can have more than one wife by islamic jurisprudence but that it is a religious ceremony only. It is not banned by civil law but simply of no validity as a civil marriage.

  • Raphaella13

    so frappin’ sick . . .

  • Raphaella13

    The Church must become militant to stand up against sodomy and other sins against God.
    The movement toward all-out evil is upon us and personally, I would rather be dead than turn against God.

  • Raphaella13

    Homosexuality is immoral and deviant. It simply is not what God deemed good and natural. Penises do not belong together any more than vaginas belong together. It all makes me nauseous.

  • Raphaella13

    Surely gays and lezzies were not born that way; if they were, then it must be as result of a mutation.

  • Raphaella13

    Change will not come because that kind of change is immoral and against God’s Laws. It is alive and well now because of the evil paths the world is taking in all aspects of life.

  • Ktesor

    We are in the Times of antichrist….the handwriting is “all over the wall” the Church will be “driven” underground “for a short while” But….just like  Jesus was in the Tomb for 3 days…EASTER is right around the corner! Alleluia…Viva Cristo Rey!

  • paulywalnuts1965

    As our holy Scriptures reveal, humankind was created and designed by God, the Everlasting Creator, to be heterosexual.  He further ordered man and woman to be ‘fruitful and multiply.’  Homosexual sex is, by its very nature, intrinsically disordered and sterile.  The Bible correctly refers to it as an “abomination.”  Men who lie with men and women who lie with women are incapable of producing offspring.  Homosexuality is a form of sexual disorientation.  Homosexual acts, on the other hand, are a conscious choice one makes to engage or not to engage.  It is, therefore, a cross and an affliction, which, if pandered to, will result in the loss of eternal happiness in paradise.  Every mortal sin is a rebellion against God, and His divine order.  No Catholic may encourage another to engage in mortally sinful behaviour, be it bestiality, heterosexual fornication or homosexual acts.  God has made it clear that “we are our brother’s keeper.”  As such, it is our duty to set a good example by way of living a moral and decent life in union with the tenets of our faith.  Nations that attempt to normalise homosexual unions will degenerate and collapse. 

  • paulywalnuts1965

    Yes, indeed, whatever happened to the Church Militant?  I have good news, people – the Church Militant is on the rise again with faithful Catholics like Michael Voris in the United States leading the way.  It is time for the rank and file faithful to step up to the plate and do their bit, seeing that so many of our leaders, both secular and religious, have failed us.  I urge people to visit Mr. Voris’ website and listen in to his daily talks on the faith and the urgent problems confronting Catholicism and society in general today.  You will be glad you did.  His site is  Sign up for his daily messages and let’s get organised.

  • JabbaPapa

    I personally do not believe anybody who insists that there is only one single cause for homosexuality, leading automatically to that consequence, in an entirely predictable manner.

  • JabbaPapa

    Your reply is entirely disconnected from what I wrote.

  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

    “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.”



  • Fr Thomas Poovathinkal

     “Could it not be the case that, just as God has given same-sex
    orientations for one part of his Creation, and for his own good
    purposes, that a minority of human beings might share in that gift too?”






  • Jonathan West

    Who precisely is forcing you into a same-sex marriage?

  • Chris Manchester

    With respect, the most recent evidence from science in this area points to the very strong probability that a small minority (up to 5%) of humans are born with a homosexual orientation.  My point in earlier entries was this: given that same-sex sexual behaviour has been documented in hundreds of other creatures too, we perhaps should not be too surprised to see as a minority inclination to it in humans.  Whether humans act upon it is of course a different issue.

  • Chris Manchester

    I’m sorry but your feelings of nausea at the thought of something you personally  believe to be unnatural is irrelevant.  Many people feel nauseous about the entirely unnatural practice of piercing the human flesh and then hanging metal on it.  I assume you would therefore ban the wearing of earrings?  The practice is surely not what God deemed a ‘good and natural’ use for the human ear.

  • Andrew

    The Church will be dragged screaming into the 21st Century, that is not a simple possibility, it is inexorable.  The forces of social change and social progress, based on deeper understandings of human sexuality, for example, than the misunderstandings that were formulated thousands of years ago and which have been perpetuated through simple repetition, cannot be by their nature effectively resisted..  But who, exactly, is screaming?   Not the majority of Catholics to be sure and an increasing number of members of the Hierarcy are deciding either to stay mute on the issue or to refuse to answer questions.  It is too convenient to dismiss these clergy as ‘liberals’. The screamers, if I can describe them as such (we see many comments from the screamers below), are screaming in infinitesimally smaller numbers and the loudest screaches continue to be heard from the Vatican, which has been described as having the greatest number of homosexuals per square metre than anywhere else on God’s earth.  Many of them there, walled up in marbled corridors and divorced from the realities of everyday life and ignorant of what really matters to ordinary people, frequently feel the need to punish in other people what they hate in themselves.  This is not moral theology, but rather psychopathology.  The psychormorbid preoccupation with human sexuality and the insistence that only persons of differing genitalia should be allowed freedom of sexual expression and the codification of love and affection and physical expression in a civil marriage contract beggers belief and is increasingly unsustainable in intellectual terms.  It is a view that cannot and will not survive as gay marriage is incrementally and increasingly made legal across the civilised world.

    Back to the screamers and to what really matters to ordinary people.  The anti-gay marriage petition is stalling and stalling badly, hence the renewed efforst recently to excite the Faithful into signing the petition.  But people are refusing to do so and Catholics?  Certainly!  Those of you with calculators and with interest in the matter for whatever reasons, proper or psychopathological, will see that given the current population estimate of the UK variously reported at somewhere between 63 and 65 Million, the current opposition stands at the massively impressive (and highly noteworthy) percentage of approximately slightly less than 1%.  Yes, one per cent.  Additionally, the petition signers are self-selecting or are being invited and even coerced into signing, so that any claim that the current petition signers are in any way representative of the UK population, is utterly intellectually incoherent.  We are talking of a minute and homogenous group.  Even if the percentage rises to, say, 5%, through the methods currently being used by the extremists, its small size and the statistical unrepresentativeness will remain major obstacles to arguments against the civil marriage extension.  

  • Anthony Miller

    A slippery slope argument must establish a chain of logical implication which seems to me in the above article to be a tad absent.  What you are offering up is very well sounding informal fallacy.

    One might suggest also that while people may not agree with the idea of gay marraige Catholics are still in a minority in what is still a Protestant country and maybe you should respect their culture even if you dont want it for yourself.

    I think the state knows better than to interfere in what goes on inside Catholic churches again.  And despite the hyperbole of the leader of the Thomas Moore Centre for promoting victimhood I dont think there is a realistic threat.  Mainly because most of the Eurpoean Union to which the ECHR answers is still nominally Catholic.

    One can make arguments against gay marriage but the one above is clearly twaddle.

  • Chris Manchester

    Amen to that!  A voice of reason, compassion and insight. 

  • Benedict Carter

    It’s not “screachers”, it’s “screechers”.

    ” The anti-gay marriage petition is stalling and stalling badly ..”.

    Really? 500,000 and growing every day – more than the total number of homosexuals in the country. 

    As you keep harping on about majorities and numbers, you will of course now accept that you have lost the argument and that homosexual “marriage” should not become law.

  • Sszorin

    Go peddle your idiotic ideas of communism somewhere else. This website and forum are for sane people. Before you do this read what is on this link/site provided and study it. Get the functioning of your brain on the level of a human. 

  • Benedict Carter

    “Nations that attempt to normalise homosexual unions will degenerate and collapse”.

    Quite right, and history shows many examples. The exaltation of homosexuality is a historical mark of the advanced decline of a civilisation prior to collapse.