Gay marriage critics risk court, Scots law group warns

Supporters of traditional marriage are not protected under the Scottish Government’s plans to redefine marriage, a group of independent lawyers has warned.

Public sector workers, including teachers, will have to promote same-sex marriage, according to the Faculty of Advocates.

And in a clash with Europe over the issue, the Scottish Parliament would lose out, the group cautioned.

Promote

The warnings came after the Scottish Government revealed its Bill to redefine marriage, as well as guidelines on the protections for those who disagree.

But the Faculty of Advocates said the guidelines could change in the future and do not mean individuals will not be prosecuted.

Janys Scott QC, from the group, said the Government could not provide a “cast-iron guarantee” of protection.

Gay storybooks

The QC, who convenes the faculty’s family law reform group, said that equalities laws will place a “positive” duty on teachers to promote same-sex marriage.

She commented that storybooks for five-year-olds “about James and Peter bringing up their children” would become the norm.

And she remarked: “If you are a parent from a Muslim family, you can imagine what you will make of that.”

Social change

Janys Scott warned that if parts of the guidelines “conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) then the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to implement them”.

She added: “The convention is a living instrument and as society’s mores change, the way the convention is interpreted changes.

“Ministers have put in train a very big social change.”

The Faculty of Advocates is a body of independent lawyers that dates back to 1532.

Safeguards

The Scottish Government released its Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill this week, but it has faced criticism.

Scotland for Marriage, which is campaigning against the plans, cautioned that “safeguards and law changes” were needed to protect people who support traditional marriage.

It warned: “Teachers, parents, school kids, foster carers, NHS chaplains and others in everyday life must not be penalised for backing traditional marriage.”

And Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell said: “I think it is now the rights of people who believe in marriage that are under fire and in danger.”

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