Eddie Barnes writes (Inside Politics, 4 July) that opponents of same-sex marriage have circulated a legal opinion suggesting that UK and European equality law could mean that churches that oppose same-sex marriages might be forced to conduct them. But that concern does not stand up to closer examination.
The UK government has pledged that it will ensure that UK equality law exempts churches from any obligation to marry same-sex couples. There is already a similar provision in UK law allowing churches to refuse to marry transsexual people, which has been fully effective.
As for European equality and human rights laws, those of course apply across Europe. We are surrounded by eight countries which already have same-sex marriage (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal).
In none of them has any religious body or religious celebrant opposed to same-sex marriage been obliged to conduct one. Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the freedom of religious practice and observance.
As top human rights lawyer Lucy Scott-Moncrieff confirmed last month, Article 9 guarantees religious bodies and celebrants the freedom to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages.
Eddie Barnes is right: same-sex “marriage” is “the hottest potato” in Scottish politics.
In the light of this, one has to wonder why the huge numbers opposing same-sex “marriage” are not represented by any political party at Holyrood. Scotland’s Christians, for example, need to ask themselves how they are managing to use their votes in a way that leaves their views on this crucial issue unrepresented.
We need a credible alternative to the current SNP/Lib Dem/ Labour/Green/ Conservative/media coalition.
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