Press Release: Law Society and QEII2 Centre to be taken to Court for cancelling Christian conference on 'same-sex marriage'
Issued on behalf of Christian Legal Centre
For Immediate Release
July 3, 2012
QUEEN ELIZABETH II CONFERENCE CENTRE AND LAW SOCIETY TO BE TAKEN TO COURT FOR CANCELLING CHRISTIAN CONFERENCE OVER ‘SAME-SEX MARRIAGE’
GOVERNMENT-OWNED Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, and the Law Society, are to be taken to Court for Breach of Contract after they cancelled Christian Concern’s conference ‘One Man. One Woman. Making the case for marriage for the good of society’, (23 May) which was due to discuss, amongst other issues, the Government’s proposals to redefine marriage.
In a Letter Before Court Action, served on Ernest Vincent, Chief Executive, of The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, and copied to Eric Pickles, the Communities Minister on Friday evening (29 Jun), solicitors for Christian Concern, the conference organisers, state: “Our client wishes to make a claim against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, acting through the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (“the QE2 Centre” or “the Centre”), in view of your breach of contract on the booking of the above mentioned event.
“We require a response within 7 days of today’s date, and in the absence of any satisfactory conclusion being reached in connection with our client’s concerns, court action will be commenced.”
Christian Concern had arranged with an American organisation called the “World Congress of Families” (“WCF”) and others to host a conference on the subject of marriage, and several eminent speakers were booked to appear. Speakers and delegates (around 75 in number) were to attend the Conference travelling from around the UK and from overseas.
Christian Concern had first booked a conference suite at the Law Society, but were told that the event was deemed to breach the Society’s Equalities Policy. Organisers then booked the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, opposite the Houses of Parliament, and made an official booking with the centre, which was confirmed on 18 May.
However, at 4pm on the day before the event, after speakers and delegates had made travel plans, the Conference was cancelled by the QEII Centre by the Chief Executive as the event on families was deemed “inappropriate” for the Centre.
Christian Concern informed Mr Vincent that it did not accept the attempted termination, and that they would not accept the booking fees back. Organisers had then to take last minute steps under considerable pressure, and expense to ensure the Conference was able to be relocated to another venue, creating considerable disruption to the event.
Christian Concern sought an emergency injunction overnight on May 22/23, but as no lawyers from the Treasury Solicitors Office were available, the injunction was unable to proceed.
Christian Concern, founded by barrister and Chief Executive Officer Andrea Minichiello Williams, has been at the forefront of defending numerous Christians facing discrimination for talking about their faith in the public square, and is one of the partner organisations in the Coalition4Marriage, the cross party, cross-religions and cross-charity organisation which has secured over 581,700 signatories on a Petition objecting to the Government’s proposals to redefine ‘marriage’.
Christian Concern is claiming a breach of contract by the Law Society and then by the QEII Centre, and a claim in respect of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, in relation to the beliefs held by Christian Concern concerning marriage.
The Hire Agreement with the QE II Centre provided for termination by the Centre for a failure to pay. Christian Concern paid all monies up-front.
Andrea Minichiello Williams said:
“No justification was given by the Centre to explain their reasons for revoking our contract. They said our views were “inappropriate” and “undesirable” but were unable to attribute any evidence of what it was they found to be “inappropriate” and “undesirable”. Was it because the focus of the Conference was on the issue of marriage and its current legal definition which is that it is between a man and a woman?
“The Conference supported the legal definition of marriage, as do 70% of the British public according to a recent ComRes poll. The implication of the decision to cancel this booking is that belief in marriage between a man and a woman is offensive and that those who hold such an opinion have to be treated less favourably as a result.
“There is no justification in contract, or in law generally, for the Law Society or the QEII Centre to hold this position, and their termination of their contracts with Christian Concern is a breach of the terms of the contract,”
The Law Society and the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre have 7 days to respond before Court Papers will be served on them by solicitors for Christian Concern.
Mrs Williams continued: “Gay rights’ group Stonewall has recently held its conferences in the Law Society and the QEII Centre attended by Government Ministers. These conferences talk about promoting 'equality and diversity'. Yet it would seem that neither the Law Society or the QEII Centre extends the same hospitality to Christian groups.
"In this brave new world dominated by an 'equality and diversity' culture, some groups seem to be more equal than others. Indeed, dare to challenge the new political orthodoxy and you're left out in the cold and branded hateful and phobic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their treatment of us is more akin to life in a totalitarian state, not the Britain that has historically led the world in promoting freedom."
For further information/interview:
Andrea Minichiello Williams: 077125 91164
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