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Officials at the Home Office and the Department for Education concede that teachers may be under a legal obligation to inform children about same-sex marriage once it has passed into law. Under the Education Act 1996, pupils must learn about the nature of marriage and its importance for family life in sex education classes.
Colin Hart, campaign director at the Coalition for Marriage, said: ‘Marriage appears more than 3,000 times in law, affecting every aspect of our lives. It is simply impossible to redefine it without many serious unintended consequences, not least forcing schools to teach children about gay marriage, even if this goes against the wishes of the parents, children and teachers.’
‘The issue of same-sex marriage is not just one about equality, but what happens in our school classrooms as well,’ he said. ‘Teachers should be able to exercise their consciences according to their own views on marriage, but that could well be constrained by these proposals. ‘As much as I am sceptical about the Government being able to exempt churches from conducting same-sex marriages, I also doubt whether it will be possible to construct exemptions for teachers. ‘They would be open to legal challenges. Is the Government really going to order primary school teachers to go against the views of the churches that run them?’
Hundreds of Canadians have faced legal proceedings for opposing same-sex ‘marriage’ in the public sphere following its introduction in 2005, it has been reported. Within five years of marriage being redefined in Canada, an estimated two to three hundred cases have been brought against individuals, mostly Christians, who have opposed same-sex marriage in the public sphere. The proceedings have been brought at employment boards, courts, and human rights commissions.
A number of employees have been dismissed from their jobs because they have maintained a conscientious objection to same-sex marriage. Businesses have been sued and churches have been threatened with sanctions over their religious beliefs.
Examples from Canada
A television anchor on a prominent sports show was immediately dismissed after he posted his support for “the traditional and true meaning of marriage” on Twitter.
A Roman Catholic bishop in Alberta, Fred Henry, was charged with a human-rights violation for writing a letter to local churches outlining the Catholic position on marriage.
A Christian organisation in Ontario working with some of the most marginalised disabled people in Canada was taken to court after objecting to the marriage of one of its homosexual employees. The organisation faced an ultimatum and had to choose between changing its hiring and employment policy or being closed down.
An evangelical Christian marriage commissioner in Saskatchewan was successfully sued for refusing to marry a homosexual couple, despite assisting the couple by putting them in touch with another marriage commissioner who would be willing to conduct the ceremony.
A campaign has now begun in Canada to remove tax-free status from churches that refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. Some Canadian provinces are even considering laws to forbid teachers in private schools from teaching that traditional marriage is the ideal.
Michael Coren, writing for the National Review Online, said: “Once gay marriage becomes law, critics are often silenced by the force of the law. The Canadian litany of pain, firings, and social and political polarization and extremism is extraordinary and lamentable, and we haven’t even begun to experience the mid and long-term results of this mammoth social experiment. I seldom say it, but for goodness’ sake, learn something from Canada.”
Examples from Denmark
Canada is not the only country with same-sex marriage laws that has witnessed subsequent restrictions on religious freedom.
Last week, new laws were introduced in Denmark requiring all Established Evangelical Lutheran churches to perform same-sex marriages.
Individual ministers can opt-out of performing the ceremonies, but Bishops will be forced, sometimes against their conscience, to find a replacement minister to perform the ceremonies.
Some campaigners in Denmark are now calling for the ceremonies to be compulsory for non-Lutheran churches as well, including the Catholic Church.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“When same-sex marriage is introduced, religious freedom and freedom of speech is crushed. Is this what we want for the UK?
“If same-sex marriage becomes legal in the UK, we are likely to witness a similar surge of proceedings brought against Christians in the public sphere, who will be penalised for having a biblical sexual ethic.”
It is a sad fact that even the British Christian politicians are unaware of the realities of changing the law on marriage. Please see my earlier post regarding Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh…
Please sign the C4M petition to keep marriage between 1 woman and 1 man – http://c4m.org.uk/ and don’t forget to sign up for my blog, ‘like’ my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter @FaithIOFamilies.
Sources – National Review, Christian Concern, Daily Mail.