Orange Lodge backs Catholic stance on adoption

THE Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland has backed the Catholic Church in its war of words with the government over Tony Blair's decision to push ahead with controversial gay equality laws.

The support from the staunchly Protestant order is a sign that the government's refusal to exempt religious groups from the Sexual Orientation Regulations is uniting Christians in opposition.

Despite public protests from Catholic leaders and members of his own Cabinet, the Prime Minister decided on Monday that Catholic adoption agencies will not be excluded from new rules which will forbid anyone who provides goods or services from refusing custom on grounds of sexuality.

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Ian Wilson, the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, last night told The Scotsman that leaders of the Catholic Church had a right to be heard on such moral issues in politics.

He spoke after Cormac Murphy O'Connor said: " If people weren't able to act according to their conscience for the sake of the common good in our country, it would be a lack of freedom for religious conviction"

Mr Wilson said: "There has to be more tolerance of the views of people of faith, and that includes the Cardinal.

"Broadly speaking, the Lodge would take an orthodox, traditional Christian view of this - we see the family as a man and a woman."

Orange lodges have sometimes been associated with sectarian tension, but Mr Wilson insisted that his order sympathised with the Catholic hierarchy.