Schools may be forced to promote same-sex marriage, warns leading QC
A leading human rights lawyer has warned that, should same-sex marriage be introduced, schools will be forced to promote such relationships as equivalent to heterosexual marriages, and parents would be powerless to protest.
Aidan O’Neill QC, who provided the opinion at the request of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has warned that any such redefinition of marriage would mean that schools would no longer be permitted to promote traditional marriage over same-sex relationships.
Mr O’Neill also warned that parents will be unable to insist that any teaching on marriage is consistent with their religious convictions.
He said: “The way in which the curriculum is delivered by schools is covered by the anti-discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010 such that pupils should not be taught in a manner which may be thought to subject them to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
“Scottish Ministers and local education authorities have an obligation to have 'due regard' to the need to tackle prejudice and promote understanding in relation to matters of different sexual orientation.
This duty applies regardless of whether marriage be opened to same-sex couples.
“[Parents] will be hard-pressed to rely upon their Convention rights as parents to ensure education and teaching by the state of their children in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions,” he said.
Mr Neil also warned that it will be difficult for parents to request that their children be excused from attendance at any sex education classes in which this new vision of marriage is taught and promoted.
Although Mr Neil’s opinion was provided in relation to Scotland, it is thought to be applicable to England and Wales where sexual orientation is a similarly protected equality strand.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien
The leader of Scotland’s Catholic Church, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, commented:
“It is clear that Scotland's schools will be banned from promoting a traditional understanding of marriage if same-sex marriage becomes law.
“This means that the reassurances offered by the Scottish Government that schools and churches will be protected have been utterly hollow.
“If they enact same-sex marriage legislation there is no question that the work of Catholic schools and parishes will be impaired, undermined and damaged.”
Freedom of Belief
Conservative MP Peter Bone has also previously expressed concern for freedom of belief in schools, commenting that:
“It is simply inconceivable in today’s world where political correctness runs amok in our institutions, that there would not be profound consequences for those who hold traditional views.
“Parents who object will be treated as bigots and outcasts ... discriminated against and persecuted because they hold views that have been enshrined in our laws and have been the cornerstone of our society for 2,000 years.
“And what of the teachers who object to teaching about same-sex marriage? Will they face disciplinary action? How will it affect their careers?”
Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“It is God's design for children to be raised with a mother and a father, and children do best in that environment.
"Many parents want to raise their children in accordance with their own religious values; yet if same-sex marriage is introduced and promoted in schools, they will lose that freedom.”
“Christian teachers who do not want to promote same-sex marriage may lose their jobs.”