CONSCIENTIOUS beliefs about the definition of marriage should be
a "protected characteristic" under the Equality Act, an MP said
Edward Leigh, the Conservative member for Gainsborough, secured
Commons support, through the ten-minute-rule procedure, to bring in
a Bill to give beliefs about marriage the same legal protection as
age, disability, and race.
Moving his Bill, Mr Leigh recalled the case of Adrian Smith, who
won a High Court case against his employers, the Trafford Housing
Trust, after he was demoted for putting a post on Facebook that
described same-sex marriage as "an equality too far" (
News, 23 November).
"His case cost him, and the charity that supported him, £30,000.
He got £98-worth of damages," Mr Leigh said. "If the Government
succeeds in redefining marriage, the problem will get much
"No one can force an atheist teacher to teach religion. . .
During World War Two, when we were in a life-and-death situation,
we allowed the existence of conscientious objections. But in
21st-century Britain, woe betide anyone who refuses to declare full
support for same-sex marriage in their workplace or classroom."
His Bill was opposed by Steve Doughty (Labour, Cardiff South and
Penarth), who said Mr Leigh was using a sledgehammer to crack a
nut. "The Equality Act already provides safeguards . . . and does
not need further clarification."
Mr Leigh's Bill was approved by 86 votes to 31; and is due to
receive its Second Reading on 1 March.