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In poll, 83 per cent think that ECHR will force gay marriage

24 August 2012


Disagreeing: Cardinal O'Brien (left) and the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, seen together, during the Pope's visit in 2010

Disagreeing: Cardinal O'Brien (left) and the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, seen together, during the Pope's visit in 2010

TENSIONS between campaigners against same-sex marriage and political leaders in Westminster and Scotland heightened this week.

The Coalition for Marriage (C4M) ( News, 24 February), which opposes the introduction of same-sex marriage, published a poll, on Saturday, of 569 "churchgoers", which it had commissioned ComRes to carry out.

Eighty-six per cent of respondents said that they believed "that even if the Government changes the law to exempt religious buildings, this will be overturned by the European Court of Human Rights", a statement from C4M said.

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents said that they were less likely to vote for the Prime Minister at the next election, adding weight to reports that the plans to legalise same-sex marriage had damaged relations between the Conservative Party and some churchgoers (News, 15 June).

The campaign director for C4M, Colin Hart, said: "Churchgoers simply don't believe the assurances from the Government that these changes will not be forced on churches."

On Friday, the secretary of Changing Attitude Ireland, Canon Charles Kenny, said that David Cameron's "tolerant and sensitive approach" to same-sex marriage "plays well with the general public, who find it hard to understand the reaction of mainstream Churches".

At the weekend, it emerged that the RC Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, had suspended direct communication with the Scottish government on the issue of gay marriage, asking that communication take place between officials.

A spokesman for Cardinal O'Brien told BBC Scotland, on Sunday: "Cardinal O'Brien is really keen that the perspective and the position of the Catholic Church is conveyed to the Scottish government, but he isn't convinced that he necessarily has to do that in person."

A spokesman for the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, said: "While this is an honest disagreement over policy, on a personal level relations between the First Minister and the Cardinal are extremely good."

Earlier this month, the director of the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishops' Council, the Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, responded to an article by the, Labour MP Tom Harris, who calls himself a "recovering Evangelical", and is pro gay marriage.

In his response, posted on the website of the Christian Socialist Movement, Dr Brown said that the "key point" of the senior church officials' submission to the Government's consultation on same-sex marriage ( News, 15 June) "is that the virtues of faithful homosexual relationships cannot embrace everything that is good about heterosexual marriage . . .

"Our concern is . . . to ask what sort of a society we would have if the social meaning of marriage was stripped of any expectation at all that it involved having children."

Dr Brown described the Government's consultation on the introduction of same-sex marriage as "a dog's breakfast of erroneous assumptions and begged questions".


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