Conscience clauses in same-sex marriage legislation
The chairman of Grassroots conservatives has written to the Prime Minister as follows:
"Important legislative changes should be included in the 2015 Conservative Party Manifesto that would protect those who believe in traditional marriage.
You have signalled the need for a Bill of Rights. This should include conscience clauses, which provide reasonable accommodation for teachers and registrars in the public sector and for all Churches (not just the C of E) and other faiths, which have concerns about SSM on religious or moral grounds. The current state of British Law on Same-Sex Marriage forces people in public office to act against their conscience and pressures people to be silent about their moral convictions on this matter or in some cases face the sack. This is a trespass on religious freedom and freedom of speech.
It is vital that the legislation should allow freedom of conscience as follows:
- Faith schools are not required to promote SSM.
· Registrars, new or existing, who have a conscientious objection are not required to solemnise a SSM.
· The 2010 Equality Act is amended to make clear that discussion or criticism of SSM shall not be taken of itself to be discrimination, to prevent discrimination against anyone who holds the belief that marriage is an exclusively heterosexual institution, and to make the belief that marriage is an exclusively heterosexual institution a ‘protected characteristic’.
· Protection from accusations of discrimination for a vicar who decides not to opt-in to SSM, even though his/her church denomination has.
· Strengthening protections against being compelled to solemnise SSMs by widening the definition of ‘compelled’ to include ‘less favourable treatment,’ ‘imposition of any criminal or civil penalty’ and ‘legal proceedings’.
· Exclusion of religious organisations from the remit of the Bill.
· Protections for religious organisations in the Equality Act to make it clear that public authorities must take ‘no regard’ of their views or actions regarding the solemnising of SSMs.
· The Public Order Act be clarified to protect freedom of speech, to ensure that discussion or criticism of SSM is not, of itself, taken to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred."
Read the full letter here:
We recognize the problems currently associated with the administration of the overseas aid budget.
These could be addressed in the following way:
Aid that really is about developing our trade belongs actually to the Department of Trade and Industry
Aid that really is about good relations with other countries belongs to the Foreign Office.
A whole layer of bureaucracy and expense could be removed if the Government were to match pound for pound aid that is raised and delivered by charities through community based work among the really poor and vulnerable. Already when money is channeled to charities through Gift Aid, the government adds 25%, so the principle of matching funds is nothing new. This would make the aid more transparent, accountable and effective.
It has been shown that the most effective way of spreading liberal democracy over the last 150 years has been through the work of mostly Christian inspired schools and initiatives. The World Bank report “Voices of the Poor” reported that the groups that poor people trust are their own organisations and the churches which always stay with them.