Section 29 of Equality Act 2007 will force Churches to conduct gay marriages – CofE Lawyers

Lawyers for the Church of England have advised bishops that section 29 of the Equality Act 2007 will force all Churches to conduct gay marriages if David Cameron’s plans to change UK marriage legislation succeed.

‘ Equality laws introduced by Labour in 2007 have already disrupted 11 Roman Catholic adoption agencies, which have either stopped finding new homes for children or severed their links with the church because they are no longer allowed to decline to place children with gay couples.

The same laws, now enshrined in the 2010 Equality Act which was voted into law by the Coalition, will, CofE lawyers believe, make churches offer marriage to same-sex couples if they law permits them to marry.

The lawyers’ paper said: ‘A key relevant section is section 29 of the Equality Act which makes it unlawful for a person concerned with the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public to discriminate on various grounds, including sexual orientation.’

Minister Lynn Featherstone’s assurances that legal changes to allow man-man, woman-woman ‘marriages’ will only apply to civil weddings are misinformed at best, and intentionally misleading at worst.

Protect the Pope comment: The assurances from government ministers that homosexual marriages will not be allowed in religious premises are hollow if they are not backed up in future legislation with a section that states categorically that the Equality Act 2007, section 29, cannot apply to the provision of marriage on religious premises.

If this isn’t set out in black and white the gay lobby is going to line up Catholic homosexuals to demand a gay marriage from a Catholic parish somewhere in the UK as a test case.  Every case brought under section 29 of the Equality Act 2007 has been lost by Christian defendants.


28 comments to Section 29 of Equality Act 2007 will force Churches to conduct gay marriages – CofE Lawyers

  • Dave

    I’ve got a lot of problems with the Church, but when it comes right down to it, I still spell “Church” with a capital C when I’m talking about the Catholic Church. I have no doubt that the gay lobby is indeed lining up a test case somewhere, but I’m equally sure that the Church will stand firm on this. The ice will be six feet thick across the floor of hell before a gay couple are “married” before one of our altars, and if that means going back into the fields and up onto the hillsides to celebrate Mass, well, we’ve been there before.

    • Caral

      The ice will be six feet thick across the floor of hell before a gay couple are “married”before one of our altars,and if that means going back into the fields and up onto the hillsides to celebrate Mass,well,we’ve been there before.

      Well said Dave!

  • You state: “If this isn’t set out in black and white the gay lobby is going to line up Catholic homosexuals…”

    I take it you mean “purported Catholic homosexuals”?

  • CathChap

    More likely than the Church being forced to conduct gay marriages would be the church being prevented from conducting the civil part of straight marriages. In my view, both the state and church would then be freer to do what they believe is right without interferance. Disentangling the church and state like this benefits both parties. The problem is although you can protest about the state interfering in church matters, for as long as the church carries out activities that are the “property” of the state like concluding the civil contract part of a marriage then the state does have a legitimate right to interfere.

    If a church marriage “only” a sacremement with religious significance, but no legal significance, then we would have a leg to stand on in telling the state to butt-out.

    • Nicolas Bellord

      We must not fall for the Government’s line of separating civil and religious marriage. We should be campaigning for upholding all marriages. Non-Catholics who just have a civil ceremony are just as much married in the eyes of the Church and we should be upholding those marriages from being confused with same-sex unions just as much as sacramental marriage for Catholics. By the way Canon 1055 repeated in the Catechism at 1601 says that marriage between baptised persons is sacramental. Would that not apply to two non-Catholic persons marrying in a registry office if they had been baptised? Perhaps someone more expert than I could comment.

      It would further be an illusion to believe that separating them would protect the Catholic Church from attempts to force the Catholic Church to conduct same-sex marriages in churches. A religious marriage in a Church by a priest who is not registered, and therefore not valid as civil marriage, would still be regarded as a “service” provided to the public and Equality legislation would still apply to condemn discrimination if that “service” was not available to same-sex couples.

    • savvy

      Sacramental marriage is natural marriage. This is one of the sacraments that does not require a priest. Sacramental theology is the encounter with Christ in this world. The redemption of matter. So the natural symbols used are in line with the physical world. Unlike, some religions we don’t try and escape the physical world, because Jesus Christ came in the flesh.

      Chesterton, said, hostility to the sacrament was rooted in the “horror of matter”.

      I pray that all Catholics will understand sacramental theology to be able to explain it better to others and to deepen their own relationship with God.

  • Ioannes

    I say bring it on! The UK Parliament has no competence whatsoever to change the Canon Law of the Roman Church. Bismarck’s Kulturkampf was a failure, and Cameron is certainly no Bismarck. I don’t want to be too critical of Archbishop Nichols, but on his appearances in the media he has always stopped short of unequivocally defending Catholic teaching. ‘Confrontational’ is one of the worst words in the liberal Catholic’s vocabulary, and it would seem that ++Vincent has difficulty shaking off his liberal past. The coming Kulturkampf might just be the making of him.

    • CathChap

      “The UK Parliament has no competence whatsoever to change the Canon Law of the Roman Church”

      Absolutely true, but the problem is that at the moment a church wedding is governed by both Cannon law and Civil law and Parliament has an absolute right to change Civil law.

      • Ioannes

        As far as the Church of England is concerned, there is no distinction between a religious marriage and a civil marriage. Even if a Catholic church is registered for marriages, the legal requirements of a civil marriage must be met, but this does not apply to the Established Church, which can marry any British citizens, baptized Christians or not. And its own rules and procedures apply, not the state’s. Of course the CofE is theoretically subject to Parliament, but it has become a convention that Parliament does not interfere with its internal affairs. So the situation is more complex than a lot of commentators seem to think.

  • Liam Connolly

    Just thought I would make a comment…for the sake of making a comment! I’m enjoying your blog Deacon Nick…Now could you pop down stairs and make a cup of tea and bring it up to my office. Thanks ;-)

    • Deacon Nick

      Liam, I could make you a cup of tea but it will be a bit cold by the time I bring it up to your office around the 29th April. Have you got a microwave up there? Deacon Nick

  • Veritas

    As CathChap suggests, it may be possible to “disentangle” the church from the state by no longer civilly registering marriages in Catholic churches.

    But you can bet a pound to a penny that the next step will be for the Almighty State to demand that Catholic schools cannot teach that “same sex sexual relations” or “same sex marriage” is sinful.

    And if the Almighty State has its way and the word marriage is redefined, all existing dictionaries will have to be replaced. Children who are taught that it is sinful to have sex outside of marriage will understand marriage as including “same sex marriage”.

  • Teresa

    section 29 of the Equality Act is concerned with the provision of a public service. A sacrament cannot possibly ever be classified as a ‘public service’ (but I bet they would like to try). It could only apply to the civil registering of a marriage. So this issue does differ to the predicament of the adoption agencies.

    The answer has to be that the Church only provides the sacrament and the civil part is carried out at the registry office. Could any problems arise with this arrangement? Which part should come first – the civil or the sacrament?

    When the bishop’s letter was read at our three Churches, response to the C4M petition was very good from two of them. However there were only half the number of signatures at the Church with the largest congregation than at the smallest! I was quite surprised at that.

    A group of us are considering taking the petition to the street. Not sure how that will go down so we may well need some prayers.

  • ms catholic state

    Our weak position is as a result of not practising the Faith. Catholics are now an embattled minority because as far as marriage and birthrates are concerned Catholics did not practice the faith. Catholics co-habit and contracept at the same rate as secularists. While many are strong on the spiritual side of the Faith….Catholics generally decline to follow the dogma of the Church….because we think we are smarter. This will have devastating effects for the Church in the future.

    It is now time for the bishops to call the Faithful into line and explain their own lapses, and ours. Especially regarding sexual morality. It’s do or die time I’m afraid. (And trying to change the Faith to make it more acceptable to secular tastes as Archbishop Nichols is doing is not going to work!)

  • Veritas

    Teresa at 4.28pm wonders about the number of people signing the C4M petition at the back of the church. Hopefully many more will have signed the petition on line.

    • Teresa

      Veritas at 10.24pm – It was the 1 Church out of 3 I was wondering about. Perhaps (hopefully) they are more computer orientated there than at the other two! The online petition numbers are growing

  • Mark Thorne

    I enjoyed Dave’s comment too (“…if that means going back into the fields and up onto the hillsides to celebrate Mass,well,we’ve been there before.”).

    I believe that the Church does have some bartering power in this though: if we are compelled to effectively continuing practicing our Faith outside of the Law because of the rigid enforcement of equality legislation then I can’t see how a country that is declared to have no financial reserves, while putting up billions for pointless high speed railways and the debacle of the EU, is going to be in a position to buy back from us all the 2,000 Catholic schools (and then fund the 10% towards education that the Church contributes), then buy all the churches and other religious properties for secular purposes, etc.

    I suspect that the solution ultimately arrived upon will be that the Church only provides the sacramental part of marriage and the civil part is carried out at the registry office, as detailed by a couple of others above. I’m not sure how this would come about without a separation of the Church and State though? – in spite of the pressure exerted by the secularists, maybe disestablishment is likely to happen in the foreseeable future since, as Archbishop Rowan Williams has alluded to, the Church of England is very likely to split into two through schism.

    These are interesting times!

  • Mark Thorne

    Just a second thought here: as written by Theresa, it may end up being that the civil part is carried out at the registry office. But I ask: what would be the point of going ahead with this? Being married sacramentally in the sight of God is the important part; there seems to me to be no advantage to be gained in having the State recognise whether your married or not. I don’t see tax breaks for married couples coming any time soon, and the Lib Dems are always going to quash any legislation that seeks to “incentivise” marriage as being discriminatory towards the concubines.

    • Teresa

      I agree – to me the important part is the sacrament. I got married a couple of years ago and it feels so special and sacred. And state recognition matters little to me. I cant see any advantage either as things are for the state part but who knows what the future will hold. Do you think the Church would recommend receiving the sacrament but not registering it with the state?

  • Ronnie Doyle

    I don’t think there is a chance of the Catholic Church ever allowing same sex marriage. Aside from the anger one may feel towards our homesexual brothers and sisters, it is quite sad that they lack the humility to acknowledge the sinfulness of acting on these disordered sexual impulses. A junkie knows he is doing wrong when he shoots up, so should gays realise similar when they lay with someone of the same sex.
    Is it not an act of mercy to admonish sinners for their sinful acts, so that they maybe saved and not perish in the eternal fire. but this should be done discreetly and not to cause public shame.
    I am a sinner and I know that I hate having my faults pointed out to me, but evenually I do see the good in been advised firmly but gently.

  • Amy

    There is another petition on the HM government petitions website. Even if you’ve signed the cfm one its important you sign the other too. Ive read that if there are 100,000 signitures then the government will have to take it into account. Please pass it on as I dont think its as well advertised.

  • Karla

    And here were people like Peter Tatchell saying Churches would not be forced to conduct gay ‘marriages’ – nonsense.

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