A Conservative MP has stated that Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) would be used to stop teachers from teaching that gay marriage is wrong.
A letter, from Mark Spencer MP to a concerned constituent, also states that EDOs will not force citizens to “support or promote any political view or ideology” but singles out gay marriage as an exception.
Earlier this week, the founder of a think tank warned that the reasoning behind EDOs amounts to the “policing of thought”.
Spencer initially claimed: “The EDOs will not serve to limit free speech, but rather to guarantee it”.
But he went on to add that EDOs “would apply in situations where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong”.
Despite the clear implications for Christian teachers, he continued: “No citizen is required to accept, condone support, or promote any political view or ideology as a result of the new legislation, and as such I do not believe that it constitutes a violation of any liberty.”
Spokesman for The Christian Institute Simon Calvert said: “I am genuinely shocked that we have an MP supporting the idea of teachers being branded extremists for teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been warning about. The Government say we’ve got nothing to worry about from their new extremism laws but here is one of their own MPs writing to a constituent saying EDOs would stop teachers teaching mainstream Christian beliefs.”
Mr Calvert added: “EDOs will be a gross infringement of free speech and undermine the very British values they claim to protect.”
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, also spoke out, describing EDOs as “the largest threat to freedom of expression I have ever seen in Britain”.
Last week Claire Fox, head of think tank the Institute of Ideas, accused the Government of using extremism rhetoric to impose a new orthodoxy of thinking.
She said: “When you break it down you then see that they’re actually betraying the civil liberties, the rule of law, they’re actually dictating what teachers teach in schools.
“When they say ‘we want to prevent extremism getting out in schools’ it’s so ironic” because “the kind of schools that have been done over are Catholic schools because of, for example, their views on homosexuality”.
Fox concluded, “apparently a British value now is a positive acceptance of what the Government has told you it is”.
The proposals have been also been criticised by the media, lawyers, police officers and security experts, who have warned that innocent people will fall foul of the law for merely holding unpopular, traditional or challenging views.