Hundreds hear call for NI conscience protections

Nearly 800 people came to Christian Institute meetings across Northern Ireland last week to hear a call to action on same-sex marriage and abortion.

Following a vote in July by Westminster politicians, same-sex marriage is set to be imposed on Northern Ireland – and a permissive abortion regime has already been implemented.

Supporters at the Institute meetings were urged to contact politicians and take part in the abortion consultation currently underway.

‘Encouraging’

Meetings took place in Belfast, Limavady, Templepatrick, Portadown and Clogher Valley.

Churches from numerous denominations were represented, demonstrating the breadth of concern.

Almost 800 people attended – a number described as “most encouraging”.

‘Speak up’

On abortion, supporters were told it is “crucially important” to engage with the current consultation.

The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer Callum Webster said: “If we stay silent, the only voices that will be heard will be those pushing for yet more liberal abortion laws. We must speak up for the unborn, who do not have a voice.”

And on marriage, those attending the meetings heard a call for freedom of speech to be respected as in the rest of the UK, with Mr Webster saying: “Clear guarantees are needed when the new law comes into effect in Northern Ireland.”

Prayer

Prayer was at the heart of the meetings, with supporters being reminded to “pray that God would mercifully cause our nation to once again affirm the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage.”

The Christian Institute has previously warned the Government that it will seek to take legal action if same-sex marriage is introduced in Northern Ireland without proper safeguards.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Institute pointed out that same-sex marriage laws on the mainland include extensive provisions to protect religious freedoms and free speech, but these are not currently in the proposed law for Northern Ireland.

Lack of protections

Last month, a veteran gay rights activist criticised the Government over a lack of free speech protections ahead of the introduction of same-sex marriage.

Jeffrey Dudgeon accused the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) of being ‘deceptive’ by promising a consultation on religious ceremonies but ignoring the need for wider safeguards.

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