A call by Scotland’s equality quango for marriage to be redefined to allow homosexuals to ‘marry’ has been blasted as “partisan” and “ill-judged” by the Parliamentary Officer of the Scottish Roman Catholic Church.
Earlier this month the controversial Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Scotland urged the Scottish Government to start looking at the issue after the May elections.
But the quango has faced an accusation of becoming a pressure group intent on “imposing the views of the social elites who have worked to redefine human rights to suit their lifestyles”.
John Deighan, the Roman Catholic Church’s Parliamentary Officer in Scotland, said it was “very sad” to see that the EHRC “has become a partisan player in human rights campaigning”.
He said the quango’s decision placed it “at odds with fundamental human rights positions”.
A ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last year made it clear that there is no universal right to same-sex marriage. In throwing out a case brought by an Austrian homosexual couple, the court pointed to Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
It states: “Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family”. And the court said while “all other substantive articles of the Convention grant rights and freedoms to ‘everyone'”, the wording in Article 12 relating to men and women must “be regarded as deliberate”.
The Westminster Government is set to launch a consultation to “formally look” at redefining marriage to allow homosexuals to obtain the same certificate as married people in England and Wales. But the consultation does not apply to Scotland because marriage law in Scotland is decided by the Scottish Parliament.
However, in a report, the EHRC in Scotland made sweeping recommendations calling on the Scottish Government to change the law.
But Mr Deighan said both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights “clearly recognise that it is men and women that marry”.
He said that “the declaration recognises that the family, as the fundamental unit of society, is entitled to protection from society and the state”.
Mr Deighan also commented: “Our society is badly in need of an objective and measured assessment of human rights and equality issues especially as we see the crushing of religious freedom when views are held not to be in keeping with politically correct diktats.”
He said: “There is little hope of that if the very institutions which our government have created to give advice on human rights are now pressure groups intent on imposing the views of the social elites who have worked to redefine human rights to suit their lifestyles”.
Mr Deighan added that “human rights has become a battle ground where some campaigners see the benefit of capturing the prestigious term to wrap around their political aims”.
In 2009, homosexual lobbyists in Scotland launched a petition on the Scottish Parliament website arguing that traditional marriage should no longer have a distinct status from same-sex unions.
The petition, backed by the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Network (LGBTN), called for an amendment to the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 “to allow two persons of the same sex to register a civil marriage and a religious marriage if the relevant religious body consents”.
Commenting on the Westminster Government’s plans, Michael White, an Assistant Editor of The Guardian, expressed concern.
He said: “Aside from all the theological, moral and cultural freight, there’s an important practical distinction here which goes to the root of any society – namely that heterosexual marriage is there to produce and raise children in a more or less stable environment.”
He went on to warn that no amount of technology could “eliminate the need for a female egg and a male sperm to make a baby. On that fact rest all successful societies since the year dot.”
His comments were echoed by Melanie Philips, writing in the Daily Mail, who said: “Gay rights supporters contend that there can be no justifiable objection to extending the status of marriage to those who are not heterosexual. Gay or straight — what does it matter, as long as two people are committed to each other?
“But those who make this argument merely reveal they have no idea of the significance of marriage. They seem to think it’s just another contractual arrangement involving a binding (or not so binding) commitment — like buying a house or a car.
“But the truth is that marriage is a unique institution because it involves the process by which humanity reproduces itself — which is only through the union of male and female.”