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UK: ‘New law will compel churches to offer same-sex marriages’


SIMON CALDWELL

Source:
Catholic Herald UK
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
4/20/2012

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ABSTRACT ‘New law will compel churches to offer same-sex marriages’ | CatholicHerald.co.uk Mon 23rd Apr 2012 | Last updated: Fri 20th Apr 2012 at 15:53pm Home Latest News Features Comment & Blogs Multimedia Catholic Life Spiritual Life Saint of the week The week ahead The word this week Advertising Subscriptions Hot Topics Pope Benedict XVI Papal Visit 2010 Archbishop Vincent Nichols Personal Ordinariate general audience Latest News ‘New law will compel churches to offer same-sex marriages’ By Simon Caldwell on Friday, 20 April 2012 In This Article David Cameron , European Court of Human Rights , Neil Addison , same-sex marriage , Thomas More Legal Centre Share Share | Related Posts Mr Cameron is trying to please Christian voters by saying nice things to us: Archbishop Nichols approves. We mustn’t, however, be taken in Morning Catholic must-reads: 09/04/12 NHS trust drops threat of dismissal against pro-life nurse Cameron supports same-sex marriage and opposes our right to wear the cross. Is this ‘the most aggressively atheistic government in our history’? Oh dear – John Bercow is embarrassing. He is my MP, and I fear we have got him for life Neil Addison, director of the Thomas More Legal Centre (Photo: Simon Caldwell) David Cameron will not be able to exempt the Churches from a duty to offer marriages to gay couples, a senior Catholic barrister has warned. Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, said that the Prime Minister’s assurances to the Church that they would not be compelled to perform religious marriage for gay couples are worthless. He said two judgments by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg combined with a Court of Appeal ruling in 2010 clearly showed that the Government would be acting illegally if it legalised civil gay marriages without permitting them on religious premises too. It means that if the Coalition Government presses ahead with its plans to redefine marriage to include gay couples the Catholic Church could face prosecution under equality legislation for acting according with its teachings. “The Government will be obliged to permit same-sex marriage on religious premises on exactly the same basis as it permits heterosexual marriage,” said Mr Addison, a specialist in religious discrimination law. “How this will affect the rights of Churches who are registered for marriage and in particular how it will affect the Church of England and its clergy who are registrars of marriage by virtue of their status as priests of the established Church is legally very arguable,” he said. “Certainly a good legal case can be made that any place or person who is registered to perform marriage must be willing to perform same-sex marriage on the same basis as they conduct heterosexual marriage since, in law, there will be no difference between the two.” Mr Addison’s legal opinion is sharply at odds with the Government’s assurances, included in its consultation document launched last month, that a new law would “make no changes to religious marriages”. “This will continue to only be legally possible between a man and a woman,” the document said. But Mr Addison argues that a recent European Court of Human Rights case involving two French lesbians found that, although there is no human rights obligation for any country to legislate for gay marriage, once a state had passed a gay marriage law it must be applied to all citizens equally. The ruling upheld the findings of an earlier case involving a homosexual who had sued the Austrian government. Mr Addison said: “What the Government assurance is ignoring is the fact that, in law, there is no difference between and no status for civil as opposed to religious marriage – both are in law the same thing and merely take place in different premises.” He said the position of the Churches had already been undermined by a ruling of the Court of Appeal ruling against the registrar Lillian Ladele who in 2009 had taken Islington Council to court for refusing her the right not to officiate at same-sex civil partnership ceremonies. The judges decided that her orthodox Christian view of marriage “was not a core part of her religion”. Mr Addison said: “Churches which perform heterosexual marriages will have to be willing to perform same-sex marriages and they will have no legal grounds to resist since the courts have determined that the ‘orthodox Christian view of marriage’ is not a ‘core’ part of Christian belief.” The remarks of Mr Addison came as British Muslims grew increasingly vocal against the proposals. Dr Majid Katme, the head of the Islamic Medical Association, called on Britain’s two million Muslims to form “a holy alliance” with Christians and others against the proposals. “Marriage in Islam is only between a man and a woman,” said Dr Katme. “This is the belief of the two million British Muslim believers and the belief of about 30 million Muslims who live in western Europe. “It is the same belie.......