The Government’s consultation on its plans to allow civil partnerships to be registered in places of worship closed yesterday.
The Christian Institute has warned that the proposals are “not workable” and present a risk to the religious liberty of thousands of people.
Currently homosexual civil partnerships can only be held in register offices and secular venues such as hotels and stately homes.
But the Coalition is proposing an ‘opt-in’ system which would allow religious bodies or individual places of worship to choose to register the controversial ceremonies.
The Government’s own consultation document admits that the proposals could lead to litigation against churches that do not opt in.
In response The Christian Institute’s submission has warned that implementing such a system is likely to result in “legal action against churches who disagree”.
“By creating this situation the Government will effectively have taken sides on a highly controversial issue.
“The consultation paper also seems to imply the plans are the ‘first step’ towards redefining marriage, a move which would be deeply unpopular with the public.”
The Institute adds: “The plans are not workable and fail to provide adequate safeguards. The Government is risking the religious freedom of many thousands of people by introducing a scheme for which there is so little demand.”
Earlier this year a number of evangelical Christian organisations, including The Christian Institute, released a joint statement reiterating their “long-held” opposition to the controversial proposal.
The groups warned that changing the law to allow civil partnerships in churches would breach previous assurances made to Parliament about the nature of the same-sex partnerships.
The statement said: “It is a breach of undertakings made by Government ministers during debates on the Civil Partnership Bill.
“Parliament was persuaded to pass that Bill, in part, because it was made clear that civil partnership was a civil rather than a religious institution and would not take place in religious premises.”
The statement added: “When it comes to equality legislation, permission often turns rapidly into coercion.”