Sentamu: Redefining marriage would be a misuse of the law

The Government’s controversial plan to redefine marriage has nothing to do with injustice and would be a “misuse of the statute”, the Archbishop of York has warned.

Dr John Sentamu says changing the definition of marriage would weaken its meaning for the majority, whilst achieving “little if anything” for homosexuals.

Earlier this year Dr Sentamu received racist abuse after he became the Church of England’s first senior cleric to speak against the controversial plan.


Now the Archbishop has reiterated his position, pointing out that civil partnerships already offer “same-sex couples rights and responsibilities identical to marriage”.

He added: “If the rights of Civil Partners are met differently in law to those of married couples, there is no discrimination in law, and if Civil Partnerships are seen as somehow ‘second class’ that is a social attitude which will change and cannot, in any case, be turned around by redefining the law of marriage.

“It may even make social attitudes go in reverse gear. So I submit that to use the law to redefine marriage when there is no legal inequity involved is a misuse of the Statute. It must never be used to give comfort or reassurance but to remedy an injustice.”


The Westminster Government is currently holding a public consultation on rewriting the definition of marriage. More than half a million people have already signed a petition opposing any change.

The plans have also been criticised by three government ministers.

Philip Hammond, the Secretary of Defence, has said that the Government should “focus on the things that matter”.


Tim Loughton, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, has said that marriage should remain the union of one man and one woman.

And Gerald Howarth, a Defence Minister, said that the Conservative Party’s poor performance at the local elections was partly down to its bid to redefine marriage.

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