C of E: Individuals might be sued under gay marriage law

Wed, 13 Feb 2013

People of faith may be at risk of litigation if marriage is redefined, the Church of England’s most senior official has warned MPs.

William Fittall cautioned that it was not just religious organisations that could be affected by the legislation.

Mr Fittall made the comments in front of a committee of MPs who are considering the details of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

Litigation

Speaking yesterday, Mr Fittall said: “It is important not to underestimate the risk of litigation more generally in this area”.

He commented: “That’s not just in relation to the activities of religious organisations but people of faith. This is, like it or not, an area of culture wars.”

Mr Fittall also challenged the claims of Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who said common sense would stop problems happening in schools.

Reasonable

Mr Fittall, the Secretary General of the Church’s General Synod, said: “If everybody approached this with common sense, all would be well.”

But he said the problem was that “not everybody does approach this with reasonableness and common sense”.

Earlier this month a poll showed that more than 40,000 teachers said they would probably refuse to teach about “the importance of” same-sex marriage.

And 56 per cent of teachers believed any colleague who took such a stance risked damaging their career, according to the survey.

The results led to concerns that tens of thousands of teachers may face being sacked or disciplined over their views, because of how legislation is worded.

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