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Law Society bans major marriage conference because of its 'diversity' policy

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The Law Society has revoked the booking of a major marriage conference to be held by Christian Concern and others because it is contrary to its ‘diversity’ policy.

Christian Concern, which forms part of a family values coalition, the World Congress of Families, was due to host a colloquium at the Law Society on the issue of marriage, entitled ‘One man. One woman. Making the case for marriage for the good of society’.

In an astonishing e-mail, Adam Tallis, General Manager of Ampersand at the Law Society, stated that the event “is contrary to our diversity policy, espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same-sex marriage.”

A range of high profile speakers had been due to participate at the event at the Law Society HQ in Chancery Lane, London at the end of the month, including senior family law practitioner Peter Duckworth, the Chairman of conservative think-tank, Bow Group, Ben Harris-Quinney, Director of ResPublica Phillip Blond and media commentator Cristina Odone.

Now, Christian Concern, led by former Family Law Barrister, Andrea Williams, has been told its booking has been cancelled because of its belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

The Law Society’s decision comes at a time when the debate over the Government’s proposal to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples has reached fever pitch after over half a million people have signed a petition opposing the plans. Some Conservative MPs believe that their recent local election losses were suffered because of the Prime Minister’s support for same-sex ‘marriage’.

Yesterday, Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, said: “We are proud of our role in promoting diversity in the solicitors’ profession and felt that the content of this conference sat uncomfortably with our stance. Through our events and venues supplier, we have assisted the organisers in identifying an alternative, non Law Society venue."

The Law Society recently tweeted: "Gay marriage is the next great civil rights battle."

Comment

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:

“We’re asking the law society to honour its contract with us. I was called to the Bar in 1988 and am proud of our country’s long and great legal history, leading the world in promoting and protecting freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. I will not be hounded out of a legal institution for holding a debate on marriage.

“Some speakers and delegates won't necessarily share the view of Christian Concern. The Law Society is banning the debate - and since when can debate be against diversity?

“This action by the professional body of thousands of solicitors across the UK, all of whom would be supportive of ‘free speech’, demonstrates how discussion on traditional views of marriage is being shut down before any change in the law to redefine marriage has come into force.

“How can the Law Society’s ‘diversity policy’ not include the protection and respect of a range of views on the issue of marriage and, why has the Law Society adopted a pro-same-sex marriage policy ahead of the outcome of the Government’s Consultation and, without consulting its members?

“It is extraordinary that the professional body that regulates solicitors in this country seems to have such a fundamental misreading of the Equality Act.

“This colloquium was intended to be a genuine open debate on the issues, constructing a case for marriage in the public sphere, and they seem to be closing it down.

"Of all the places in society where you might expect freedom of debate to be protected, the regulatory body of the legal profession would surely be at the top of the list!

“This move is highly political, highly charged and wholly inappropriate.

“A lot of lawyers will be very alarmed by this and ashamed of their regulatory body for taking such action.”

Contributor, Ben Harris-Quinney, Bow Group Chairman, said:

"Emotive debate has surrounded the issue of homosexual marriage, particularly since plans to legislate further on the issue were put forth by the government for the term of this Parliament. In light of this it must be correct for parties to come together to debate the issue in forum.

“As Chairman of the Bow Group I have been invited to many debates of this nature to give my view on the legislative process. In doing so I have often shared a podium with those that I disagree with, but I have always supported the spirit of open debate and free speech.

“That a broad and professional organisation like the Law Society would decide to attempt to ban such a necessary, salient debate from taking place on their premises is exceptionable, and calls into question the value of their function in representing solicitors in England & Wales in upholding the law of a free nation.”

Source

Daily Telegraph

Resources

Christian Concern: Religious Freedom

 

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