Government breaks promise on same-sex ‘marriage’ in churches
Prime Minister David Cameron has broken his promise not to allow same-sex ‘marriages’ to take place in churches.
The Government's consultation on the issue pledged that same-sex ‘marriage’ ceremonies would only be conducted in civil settings and that no religious institution will be permitted to participate.
But Mr Cameron has now announced his intention to back same-sex weddings in churches as part of the Government’s ‘Equal Civil Marriage’ Bill set to be introduced next week.
Speaking on the issue, Mr Cameron said: "I'm in favour of gay marriage because I'm a supporter of marriage and I don't want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.
"But let me be absolutely and 100% clear, if there is any church, or any synagogue, or any mosque that doesn't want to have a gay marriage, it will not, it absolutely must not be forced to hold it. That is absolutely clear in the legislation."
However, concerns have been raised that the Prime Minister’s assurances are meaningless and that churches will be forced to conduct same-sex 'marriages' under equality laws regardless of any legislative safeguards.
Tory MP Peter Bone said: "Despite the PM’s assurance, the redefinition of marriage — because of the European Convention on Human Rights — will force churches to marry same-sex couples. This will outrage millions of people and hugely damage the Government in electoral terms."
He also commented that he did not agree with teachers "being forced to say same sex relationships are the equivalent of heterosexual relationships" – a situation that is likely to occur should the legislation be introduced.
He added: "Marriage is between one man and one woman and so changes to the definition of marriage are not appreciated and not strongly supported."
The Government’s proposals to re-define marriage have been strongly opposed by members of the public, religious leaders and the Prime Minister’s own party members.
At least 118 Tory MPs recently expressed their opposition to the plans, with one poll indicating that nearly one in five (18 per cent) of people are less likely to vote Conservative due to the proposals with only 7% being more likely to do so.
The Government’s response to the public consultation on the issue is expected to be released next week.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre, said:
"David Cameron has indicated that under the proposed legislation, same-sex ‘marriages’ would be permitted in churches despite the fact that the Government’s own consultation on the issue suggested that this would not be the case.
"If this moves ahead the Courts’ interpretation of Equality legislation will not provide any effective protection from litigation for churches who do not wish to perform such ceremonies, whatever the Prime Minister says now. Any such assurances are meaningless.
"At the Christian Legal Centre we have seen countless cases where Christians have been forced out of their jobs for their refusal to condone and promote homosexual practice. Their views have not been respected or accommodated and Mr Cameron has ignored their plight.
"This does not bode well for British Christians if further legislation is passed. Assurances to churches who do not wish to perform same-sex ‘marriages’ fly in the face of all the evidence."