Freedom of speech under threat, warns Ann Widdecombe
Ann Widdecombe, the outspoken former Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald, has warned against the increasing curtailment of freedom of speech, after two major conference centres cancelled their bookings of a Christian Concern marriage conference for “diversity reasons”.
Miss Widdecombe warned last week that expressing any opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’ is now deemed “unacceptable”.
She warned that those who believe in preserving the traditional definition of marriage have “fewer rights than many political extremists”.
Freedom of Speech
She wrote in the Express: “The issue is a simple one: freedom of speech.
“I would never seek to prevent a conference taking place just because I did not share the views of the organisers….in a true democracy both sides of any argument must be equally free to voice their beliefs.
“A society where only those who agree with the state's view about something are free to be heard does not even begin to offer liberty of expression and nor does one where freedom of assembly is restricted to those of prevailing orthodoxy.
“Parliament was assured, on the record, that homosexual equality measures would never result in curtailing the freedom to say that homosexual acts were wrong, yet now we have reached a stage where a conference aimed at nothing more than preserving the legal uniqueness of traditional marriage is regarded as unacceptable.
“The manipulation of public opinion through the curtailing of free speech is exactly what we would expect from a fascist or Communist regime but it has no place in modern Britain.”
Her comments were made after the Government owned Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (QEII) and the Law Society both cancelled a Christian Concern conference which was due to discuss the Government’s proposals to redefine marriage.
The event, entitled ‘One Man, One Woman - Making the case for marriage for the good of society’, considered the case for traditional marriage in light of the Government’s proposal to extend marriage to same-sex couples, and was cancelled by both venues for breaching their “diversity” policies.
Christian Concern is now taking both venues to court for breach of contract as well as discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 in relation to religious belief.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
"Freedom of expression can no longer be taken for granted in the UK. Even institutions such as the Law Society are censoring legitimate debate.
“Cancelling a marriage conference because it does not support the redefinition of marriage is totalitarian and sinister.
“We have historically led the world in promoting freedom but we will lose our reputation very fast if we continue in this direction.”