Equality regulator: Registrars must perform gay weddings
Mon, 18 Feb 2013
Registrars who believe in traditional marriage should be forced to conduct gay weddings against their will, the equality regulator has said.
It even said some church ministers should be forced to act against their personal beliefs, if that’s what their denomination wants.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been giving its opinion on Government proposals to redefine marriage.
The EHRC legal advice said: “registrars who are employed to deliver a public function may be required to solemnise same-sex marriages”.
In the past, the Commission has backed a court case against B&B owners who have a double room policy based upon traditional beliefs about marriage.
The B&B owners were fined £3,600, but the Commission appealed for a harsher penalty before withdrawing the request.
In 2011 the Commission was forced to apologise after one of its lawyers argued that Christian foster parents may “infect” children with their values.
Representatives of the Commission were appearing before a committee of MPs that is examining the Government’s Bill to redefine marriage.
One MP asked the Commission whether it is taking sides against Christians with traditional beliefs.
The Commission said it has a responsibility to promote equality across society, and it recently supported the right of Christians to wear a cross in the workplace.
Last month Christian registrar Lillian Ladele lost her case at the European Court of Human Rights, after being pushed out of her job because of her stance against civil partnerships.
Robin Allen, a lawyer who is advising the Equalities and Human Rights Commission on the gay marriage Bill, told MPs registrars would have to perform such ceremonies because the definition of marriage will have been changed.
He said, “all registrars of marriage are paid to work for the state in its various emanations to provide the service of conducting civil marriage ceremonies. The Bill redefines the concept of civil marriage”.
Mike Judge, spokesman for Coalition For Marriage said: “The EHRC is a quango with a track record for attacking, rather than defending the civil liberty of people who believe in traditional marriage, but even it recognises that registrars will not be able exercise conscience in the future.”