People with a traditional view of marriage need the law to protect them, a former Government minister says.
Edward Leigh MP, a former trade minister, will raise the issue tomorrow in a debate in the House of Commons.
Mr Leigh wants to avoid further cases like the housing manager in Manchester, Adrian Smith, who had his pay cut after expressing views about gay weddings on Facebook.
The MP is also raising the issue as he is concerned that teachers and others in the public sector could be “treated as outcasts” for refusing to back same-sex marriage if it is brought into law.
His move follows a legal opinion from Aidan O’Neill QC which warned of the effects of redefining marriage.
Mr Leigh cautioned: “As Aidan O’Neill’s legal opinion suggests, if the Government is successful in redefining marriage, then there are hundreds of thousands of teachers, parents, foster carers, or even hospital and army chaplains who could find themselves being disciplined for their beliefs, just as Adrian Smith was”.
He said: “To think otherwise is out of touch with reality.”
Mr Leigh is seeking a change to the Equality Act to protect “conscientious beliefs about the definition of marriage”.
He commented: “If the Government is serious about protecting those who back the current definition of marriage from being marginalised for their beliefs then it must act immediately to change the Equality Act.
“If it does not then it will opens the door to Christians, Muslims, Jews – and anyone else with a conscientious objection – being disciplined, demoted, or even sacked for backing the current definition of marriage.”
Mr Leigh will seek to change the law using a Ten Minute Rule Bill – one of the ways in which MPs can introduce legislation. However the process is used more often as a means of gauging Parliamentary opinion.
In November last year a judge ruled that bosses were wrong to demote Adrian Smith – the housing manager who had his pay cut after expressing views about gay weddings online.