Scots Free Church call for gay marriage conscience clause

Fri, 16 Aug 2013

Church leaders are calling for a conscience clause in the same-sex marriage legislation in Scotland, to protect individuals who believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

The Free Church of Scotland wants the Scottish Government to include a clause within the Bill that is similar to abortion legislation which protects medical staff who oppose the procedure.

A spokesman said: “The legislation has worked well for abortion, another deeply contentious moral issue, and it would make sense to have similar provision for same-sex marriage.”

Reassurance

Individual celebrants are said to be protected under the new Bill, but the Church says there is a “lack of clarity from the Scottish Government on how this legislation will affect individuals who believe marriage is only between a man and a woman”.

An added conscience clause would offer protections to the likes of individual teachers who do not want to teach pupils about same-sex marriage.

The Free Church wants “some reassurance that in the eyes of the state it will still be legal to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, that those who hold to this traditional view will not be subject to prosecution and that they will be free to express their opinions”, the spokesman said.

Unacceptable

The church said it was “unacceptable” that parents will have no legal right to remove their children from all lessons where same-sex marriage is mentioned and not just sex education classes.

A spokesman said including the conscience clause “would provide indisputable guidance which would be hugely helpful, rather than having to establish precedents through the courts”.

Risk

In June a union leader told teachers that disagreeing with gay marriage could be like racism and carries a risk of disciplinary action.

Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association acting general secretary, Alan McKenzie, said teachers who are against gay marriage should “watch what they say at work”.

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