BY Ian Dunn | September 6 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Marriage bill threat to freedom of religion

The Faculty of Advocates has warned that the Scottish Government’s same-sex ‘marriage’ bill threatens the freedom of religion in Scotland.

The lawyers’ warning comes in their submission to the Holyrood committee giving the bill its first reading and echoes concerns in the most recent submission made by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland. In spite of these concerns, the SNP legalistion to redefine marriage is to be fast tracked through parliament.
In its written submissions on the Equal Opportunities Committee, the Faculty of Advocates notes that the Scottish bill does not contain provisions equivalent to those in the equivalent English and Welsh bill that says a person may not be compelled by any means to a same-sex ‘marriage.’
“Religious celebrants who belong to a religious or belief body which is in favour of same-sex ‘marriage,’ but who have a conscientious objection to same-sex ‘marriage,’ might be open to pressure from their religious or belief body to solemnise such marriages,” the advocates say.
Their submission also suggests ‘there may be particular implications for persons employed in the public sphere, such as hospital, prison and army chaplains.’
The Advocates’ concerns give extra weight to the fundamental objections of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland about the consequences of redefining marriage.
In their submission on the bill, the bishops warn that ‘there already are threats to challenge churches in England and Wales which will not perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies.’
“There is a right not to be compelled to assert falsehood as truth,” the bishops warn.
“In consequence, freedom of expression will be undermined and the career prospects of those asked to cooperate in this work will be jeopardised.”
The Bishops of Scotland conclude by saying ‘that legislation for same-sex “marriage” is wrong.’
The Scottish Government, however, is set to ignore this opposition and has instructed the committee examining the bill to hold double sessions starting early in the day to try and to pass the legislation as quickly as possible.
John Deighan, the Scottish bishops’ parliamentary officer, warned that parliamentarians were acting with ‘undue haste.’
Holyrood’s Equal Opportunities Committee was due to begin consideration of the Bill on Thursday and, if the bill proceeds smoothly, it could receive Royal assent by spring of next year.


—This story ran in full in the September 6 re-launch print edition of the SCO, available in parishes.

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