Traditional beliefs about marriage will be equated with racism if the Irish Civil Partnership Bill becomes law, a newspaper commentator has warned.
David Quinn, writing in the Irish Independent, warned that the Bill if passed “will treat belief in traditional marriage as a form of prejudice, to be outlawed under certain circumstances.”
Mr Quinn also cautioned that “over time, more and more Christians are going to discover that through this Bill the Government will equate their belief in traditional marriage with racism.”
The commentator also went on to illustrate how churches could fall foul of the law.
He said: “For one thing, a parish will be required by law to rent out its hall to a same-sex couple if they want to use it to hold their reception there following a civil-union ceremony.
He added: “Everyone knows that the Catholic Church believes in traditional marriage, as do Muslims, and traditional-minded Jews and Protestants. But for holding to this belief, and by refusing to facilitate a same-sex civil partnership ceremony and any attendant events, Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc will be breaking the law.”
“They will be found guilty of discrimination. They will be put in the same boat as people who refuse to facilitate inter-racial marriage. That is, they will be treated as the exact functional equivalent of racists for believing in traditional marriage.”
The Irish Civil Partnership Bill goes even further than UK legislation as it lays out fines and a potential prison sentence for registrars who refuse to carry out same-sex civil partnerships.
Mr Quinn’s comments reflect a previous attack on the Bill by three Irish Roman Catholic bishops who described it as an “extraordinary” attack on freedom of conscience and religion.
Speaking at a press conference earlier this month the bishops warned that the Bill “represents a fundamental revolution in our understanding of marriage and the family and cannot go unchallenged”.
Last month the Irish Justice Minister revealed that Irish registrars who ask not to carry out same-sex civil partnerships due to their religious beliefs will have no “freedom of conscience” clause to protect them from punishment.