Teachers in Scotland could be forced to promote same-sex marriage if the institution is redefined, a leading human rights lawyer has warned.
Aidan O’Neill QC’s legal opinion also warns that parents would be powerless to prevent their children being taught about same-sex marriage.
While the legal opinion relates specifically to Scotland, the law is similar in the rest of the UK.
The Scottish Cabinet is expected to discuss gay marriage this week, with the results of a public consultation on the issue being published soon.
Mr O’Neill warned that parents with “traditional and religiously-based views” would be “hard pressed” to ensure their children were educated in line with their beliefs on marriage if the institution is redefined.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said: “It is clear that Scotland’s schools will be banned from promoting a traditional understanding of marriage if same-sex marriage becomes law.
“This means that the reassurances offered by the Scottish government that schools and churches will be protected have been utterly hollow.
“If they enact same-sex marriage legislation there is no question that the work of Catholic schools and parishes will be impaired, undermined and damaged.”
The legal opinion was commission by Scotland for Marriage, a group seeking to preserve marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
A spokesman for the group said: “This is a damning verdict which demonstrates the far-reaching and divisive impact of the proposed legislation. It is paramount that the rights of ordinary parents are not ignored.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “As was made clear when the consultation was launched, while we have expressed our initial view and with all of the opposition leaders at Holyrood supporting same-sex marriage, we have given an assurance that all opinions will be listened to, no final views have been reached, and therefore no decisions have been taken.”