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Same-sex ‘marriage’ will threaten religious freedom, human rights lawyer warns PM

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A leading human rights lawyer has advised David Cameron that churches could face legal challenges if they refuse to perform same-sex ‘marriages’ should the Government press ahead with its proposals.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Aidan O’ Neill QC warned that laws making it illegal for the Church of England and Church in Wales to conduct same-sex weddings were “eminently challenge-able” in the European Court of Human Rights.

He also argued that churches which refuse to participate would be barred from making use of council facilities such as village halls.

Conflict

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, warned further that the proposals would result in “serious and wide-ranging conflict between religious institutions and local authorities.”

He said that the legal opinion “demonstrates why the legislation is unworkable” and added: “These proposals are divisive, have no mandate and are poorly thought-out.”

In November last year, Education Minister Liz Truss indicated that teachers could face dismissal for refusing to teach children about same-sex ‘marriages’.

The comments were made after MP David Burrowes raised concerns about the effects of the new legislation on teachers following a previous legal opinion by Mr O’ Neill.

Mr O’Neill warned that a teacher could be lawfully dismissed for refusing to use a textbook endorsing same-sex ‘marriage’, and that parents would have no right to withdraw their children from such classes.

Threat

Over 1000 priests, including 13 bishops, recently signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph arguing that plans to redefine would threaten religious freedom and result in discrimination against Christians.

The two most senior Catholic clerics in England and Wales, Archbishops Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Peter Smith of Southwark, also called for supporters of authentic marriage to lobby their MPs “clearly, calmly and forcefully.”

Andrea Williams of Christian Concern commented: “A whole range of legal concerns have been expressed since the Government announced its legislation. This is because it runs a real risk of having unintended consequences.

“A change of this scale cannot but have a huge effect on society and in particular the place of Christians in society. If the law is changed, the Church’s view on marriage will be at odds with that of the State. It is crucial that the State does not impose its views on the Church”.

The House of Commons is expected to vote on the Equal Civil Marriage Bill before mid-February.

Related stories:

MPs and Peers launch campaign opposing same-sex ‘marriage’

Faith Minister concerned over Government’s same-sex ‘marriage’ plans

Peter Tatchell says protections for churches “open to legal challenge”

Over 100 Tory MPs oppose a redefinition of marriage

Source:

Telegraph

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