A British MP is going to table a bill in the House of Commons this week which seeks to protect “conscientious beliefs about the definition of marriage”. The bill, being introduced by Edward Leigh, will seek to amend equality legislation to protect free speech. Among other things, it addresses the perceived threat to teachers and public workers who might find the Government’s attempt to legislate for a redefinition of marriage. It is now increasingly feared that anyone who holds that marriage is only properly defined as a bond between a man and a woman will face the dismissal or discrimination suits as soon as the Government redefines marriage to include unions between two men or two women.
What has now become clear is that Britain’s 2010 Equality Act, when combined with the provisions of the plans to legislate for a new definition of marriage, threatens the freedom of speech and freedom of conscience of all citizens of England and Wales.
The 2010 Equality Act governs equality law in Britain is a major piece of legislation consolidating numerous regulations including the Sexual Orientation Regulations, whose passing forced the closure of Catholic adoptions across the country. Mr Leigh, who recently addressed Catholic Voices about the Parliamentary debate on same-sex marriage, hopes to use the same prohibitions on discrimination to protect the conscientious beliefs of millions of Britons who support traditional marriage.
Mr Leigh’s action was prompted to act after the case of Adrian Smith, a 55-year-old housing manager from Manchester who posted his opposition to same-sex marriage on Facebook and was punished by his employer. Trafford Housing Trust demoted Mr Smith from his managerial position, cut his salary by 40 per cent and gave him a final warning after reading Mr Smith’s post describing gay marriage as “an equality too far”. The Trust had justified their actions on the grounds that Mr Smith had broken their code of conduct by “expressing religious or political views which might upset co-workers.”
For more on this see: Edward Leigh seeks changes to Equality Act to protect belief in marriage.