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UKIP reiterates current opposition to same-sex 'marriage'

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UKIP leader Nigel Farage has re-stated his party’s opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’, emphasising concerns to protect religious freedom.

Last week, UKIP’s press office released comments attributed to Mr Farage suggesting that the party’s position on the controversial legislation had changed. But in a correction, Mr Farage said that the statement ‘was not made by me and not approved by me’.

In his statement he explained, “we were concerned that because of the role of the European Court of Human Rights in British law that faith communities which had strong objections were at risk of being force to conduct gay marriages.” He re-iterated the point when asked during this week’s broadcast debate with Nick Clegg whether he supported same-sex 'marriage'.

Mr Farage’s statement also alluded to “ongoing debate” within the party about how to protect “faith communities from ultimately being compelled to conduct same sex marriages”, noting that “some gay rights activists are already talking about taking legal action in Strasbourg to force this issue.”

Andrea Williams of Christian Concern said: “It is reassuring that as the European elections approach, unlike David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage recognises problems with same-sex ‘marriage’ and maintains his opposition. UKIP is right to fear the consequences for the freedom of churches. Like UKIP we are aware that some activists are already talking about using legal action to force churches to conduct same-sex marriage and there is no room for complacency.

“However, our opposition to redefining marriage has been broader than merely protecting Christian conscience. We are concerned for the long-term consequences for children, adults and communities of the dismantling and marginalisation of God’s beautiful blueprint for marriage.

“We shall follow UKIP’s ‘ongoing discussion’ on the issue very closely. Some commentators have suggested that church marriage and state marriage should be decoupled in order to maintain protection. Whatever the motivation, any such move should be strongly resisted. At this point in time, it would only lead to real marriage being further pushed to the margins of society."

The full correction statement issued by Mr Farage read:

“UKIP’s objection to same sex marriage was two-fold. First, we did not think it should have been made a political priority at a time of many other pressing issues and pointed out that the measure had no mandate from the electorate. Secondly we were concerned that because of the role of the European Court of Human Rights in British law that faith communities which had strong objections were at risk of being forced to conduct gay marriages.

“The statement attributed to me yesterday was not made by me and not approved by me. It was a draft by a staff member that should never have been sent out. There is an ongoing debate within UKIP about how we can protect faith communities from ultimately being compelled to conduct same sex marriages against their beliefs and their will. We note that some gay rights activists are already talking about taking legal action in Strasbourg to force this issue.”

During Wednesday’s live debate with Nick Clegg, Mr Farage responded to a question about whether he supported ‘same-sex marriage’, by saying: “Not all the while we are signed up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and where we have the risk that our established church, and possibly other faith communities, could ultimately under discrimination laws be forced to conduct services that they find anathema. If we get rid of the ECHR and it doesn’t have the dominant place over our society, we’ll look at it again.”

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