We’re heading for economic dictatorship writes Janet Daly in today’s Sunday Telegraph. But another story carries a grimmer message – that Britain is already in the grip of a more pervasive and sinister dictatorship. “Primary school teachers ‘could face sack’ for refusing to promote gay marriage” according to John Bingham, the paper’s religious affairs editor.
He reports that an education Minister, Liz Truss, has refused to rule out the possibility that teachers, even in faith schools, could face disciplinary action for objecting on grounds of conscience following legislation now being prepared by the British Government. This has been revealed in correspondence between a Christian member of parliament who asked Ms. Truss’ colleague, the equalities minister, raising concerns about the impact on schools of the Coalition’s plans to change the marriage laws.
The MP’s question followed a startling legal opinion given by Mr. Aidan O’Neill QC, an expert on human rights, reported on Conjugality in September, that schools could be within their statutory rights to dismiss staff who wilfully fail to use stories or textbooks promoting same-sex weddings. Furthermore he also argued that parents who object to gay marriage being taught to their children would also have no right to withdraw their child from lessons.
Mr David Burrowes MP wrote to ministers seeking reassurances that the situation outlined by Mr. O’Neill, would not arise.
Replying on behalf of the Government, Miss Truss said that parents currently have a right to withdraw their children from sex education classes and that schools must apply “sensitivity” in deciding what materials to use, taking into account pupils’ as well as their “religious and cultural background”.
But she said it was impossible to know how the balance might change further if same-sex marriage becomes law and what the implications might be.
Mr Burrowes said the letter confirmed that gay marriage would be taught in schools and offered no reassurances to teachers who object on grounds of conscience.
“There is” he said, “a big and serious question that gay marriage will undermine the liberty of conscience, that’s a big question that will hang over the legislation.”