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Wednesday 12 December 2012

Responding to the Scottish Government s consultation on a draft Bill to allow same sex marriage in Scotland, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the President of the Bishops Conference of Scotland, has urged that the widest possible protection should be given to civil liberties.

Archbishop Tartaglia said;

Writing to   Cardinal Keith O Brien in August, the First Minister said that he was ˜determined to protect the important principles of freedom of speech, conscience and declaration of faith. A leading human rights QC has subsequently pointed out that the Government s proposals will adversely impact religious freedom and   a wide range of civil liberties. In order not to discriminate unjustly, more safeguards need to be embedded in the proposed legislation.

Archbishop Tartaglia added;

The Catholic Church has made its view very clear that the redefinition of marriage is unwise and unnecessary. The Catholic Bishops of Scotland are entirely at one with their colleagues in England & Wales in upholding marriage as a union uniquely of a man and a woman for mutual love and support and open to procreation.  

Employment, Equality and Education law especially should be reviewed and, if necessary, amended so as to avoid the unjust penalization   of anyone who disagrees with same sex marriage.
 
"The Church will respond fully to the consultation in due course, but remains committed to the belief that legislation to permit same sex marriage, enacted in Edinburgh, Westminster,   or anywhere else is wrong, and is likely to have far reaching consequences which will impact far beyond the small number of people who may wish to avail themselves of the new provision."

Peter Kearney
Director
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
Glasgow
G1 2DH
0141 221 1168
07968 122291
pk@scmo.org
www.scmo.org


ENDS

Note to Editors:

In a legal opinion provided to the ˜Scotland For Marriage campaign, Human Rights QC Aiden O Neil highlighted six areas where legislation would need to be amended to provide the protection promised by the Scottish Government for those who do not support same sex marriage. The full list of required changes is shown below:


Civil liberties safeguards

1. Employment law must be amended to outlaw employers from punishing employees for their views on traditional marriage. For instance:
a. A hospital chaplain should not be dismissed by the NHS for preaching a sermon on traditional marriage.
b. Teachers should not lose their jobs for refusing to teach same-sex marriage.

Insert subsection 10(4) Equality Act 2010:

For the avoidance of doubt the protected characteristic of religion or belief include beliefs regarding the definition of marriage .


2. Equality law must be amended so that:
a. A church could not be banned from using publicly-owned facilities like community centres because it only marries opposite-sex couples.
b. A church minister could not be successfully sued (using sexual orientation or sex discrimination laws) for refusing to allow a same-sex couple to get married in his church  
c. People who believe in traditional marriage are not banned from fostering children.  

Insert subsection 149(10) Equality Act 2010:

Compliance with the duties in this section requires ensuring that a belief regarding the definition of marriage is respected and that no person should suffer any detriment in respect of the holding or the reasonable expression of such a belief .

Insert paragraph 25A at schedule 3 Equality Act 2010:

Same-sex marriage: Scotland

(1) It is not a contravention of section 29, so far as relating to sex discrimination or sexual orientation discrimination, for an approved celebrant to decline to marry a couple of the same sex.
(2) An approved celebrant who declines to marry a couple of the same sex has no duty to make alternative arrangements by way of reasonable accommodation of any request to solemnise such a marriage.
(3) In sub-paragraph (1) and (2) approved celebrant has the meaning given in section 8(2)(a) of the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 (persons who may solemnise marriage).


3. Education law must be amended so that:
a. There will be a parental right of withdrawal from any lessons involving same-sex marriage;
b. When lessons do involve same-sex marriage, it will be dealt with as a controversial issue like abortion or a party political issue;
c. Primary schools will not be expected to deal with the topic at all.
d. The rights of denominational schools are fully protected.

4. Equality and education law must also be further amended to protect parents and children who believe in traditional marriage from being punished for their beliefs.

Insert section 9A Education (Scotland) Act 1980:  

Any pupil in a school to which section 9 applies may be withdrawn by his or her parents from any instruction where the notion of same-sex marriage is presented; and no pupil shall in any such school be placed at any disadvantage with respect to the instruction given therein by reason of his or her parents opposition to same-sex marriage, or by reason of his or her being withdrawn from any instruction where such a notion is presented .

Insert subsection 1(c) to section 35 Ethical Standards in Public Life (Scotland) Act 2000:

the legitimacy and value in a pluralistic and tolerant society of the belief that marriage is the exclusive union of one man and one woman .

So that section 35(1) reads as follows:

Councils duties to children

(1) It is the duty of a council, in the performance of those of its functions which relate principally to children, to have regard to-
(a) the value of stable family life in a child s development;
(b) the need to ensure that the content of instruction provided in the performance of those functions is appropriate, having regard to each child s age, understanding and stage of development; and
(c) the legitimacy and value in a pluralistic and tolerant society of the belief that marriage is the exclusive union of one man and one woman .

Insert section 56A Standards in Scotland s Schools etc Act 2000:

The Scottish Ministers must, in exercising their discretion under section 56, ensure that any guidance issued respects and gives proper regard to the validity of an exclusive belief in opposite-sex marriage .


5. Charity and equality law must also be amended to guarantee protection for charities that believe in traditional marriage.
a. Charities which believe in traditional marriage are facing complaints to OSCR, the Charity Regulator. They must be protected.
b. Adoption agencies must be protected from the loss of their charitable status if they hold to traditional marriage.

Insert subsection 2A to section 8 Charities and Trustees Investment (Scotland) Act 2005:

For the purposes of subsection 2 the provision of benefits on the basis of same-sex or opposite-sex marriage is not to be regarded as disbenefit .

Insert subsection 193(3) Equality Act 2010:

For the purposes of subsection (2) the provision of benefits on the basis of same-sex or opposite-sex marriage may be a legitimate aim if a person acts in pursuance of a religious purpose or vocation .


6. Public order law must be amended to provide a specific freedom of expression clause to those expressing the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Insert subsection 2A into section 38 Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010:

For the avoidance of doubt nothing in subsection 1 prohibits or restricts any expression in itself of a belief regarding the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman .

Insert subsection 7 to section 1 Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012:

For the avoidance of doubt nothing in subsection 1 prohibits or restricts any expression in itself of a belief regarding the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman .

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