A MOVE to post petition cards opposed to legalising gay marriage directly to Edinburgh homes has been labelled distasteful by pro-rights campaigners.
Organisers of the Glasgow-based Scotland for Marriage campaign have extended their petition drop to the Capital for the first time.
Thousands of cards urging householders to “help save the true meaning of marriage” and either sign the petition form or go online to register their name have been put through the letter boxes of households in the city’s eastern suburbs this month. Areas including Portobello, Musselburgh and eastern parts of the central city have been targeted.
The campaign is in response to the Scottish Government’s announcement in July that it was considering bringing in legislation to allow same-sex couples to wed.
Tim Hopkins, director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans gender rights group Equality Network, said the organisation had received complaints about the letter drops
He said: “We’ve had a number of people contacting us about this and people do find it quite distressing.
“It’s one thing to see an advert in the newspaper from Scotland for Marriage saying ‘look on this website if you want to sign the petition’.
“It’s something else to have something come through your front door because it’s essentially an attack on people’s family and on their person.
“It’s rather like somebody conducting a campaign saying that people of a particular religion, for example, shouldn’t be allowed to have certain jobs and then putting leaflets through the front door and saying ‘please sign this petition’ if you were a member of that religion. You’d find that to be very disturbing because it’s an attack on your personal beliefs and your personal rights.
“I think any large-scale campaign that is trying to stop the public having equal rights, which is what this is about, is necessarily going to be upsetting for that group.
“One would have hoped we’d moved on from a situation where people campaign for stopping other people from having equal rights, but unfortunately we haven’t yet.”
The Scotland for Marriage campaign is run by a pool of religious-based organisations including CARE for Scotland and The Christian Institute. The petition card states: “We are deeply concerned about the implications for what will be taught in schools if marriage is redefined. We are also concerned that the definition of marriage may be rewritten further so that, for example, polygamy may be legalised at some future point.
“Our chief concern is for the general welfare of the people of Scotland. In addition, we do not wish to see the rights of conscience eroded for those who disagree with homosexual marriage.”
About 31,500 people across Scotland had signed the petition as of late yesterday.
CARE for Scotland parliamentary officer Gordon Macdonald said he could not confirm how many of the signatures came from Edinburgh.
He defended the letter drop, saying: “Anything that you put through people’s letter boxes always runs that risk of (offending people) in any area of life.
“At the end of the day people don’t have to sign the card, they can put it in the bin if they want. That’s up to them.”
Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi said: “All campaigning on this issue needs to be aware of how deeply held feelings are. Any time there’s a campaign concerning minority rights, which this is, the majority side is faced with a responsibility to ensure that they are respectful because they’ve got the majority.
“I’d be very worried if the tone of any campaign material that was being put through doors led to anyone feeling unsafe in their own community, or indeed that they were being singled out.”