Archive for the ‘Law’ Category
THOSE WHO support the proposals to legalise gay ‘marriage’ usually do so out of a desire to be kind to homosexuals, rather than because they have read the legislation and reached that conclusion.
Few have thought through the legal and social implications of redefining an institution that has existed in its current formfor between 5,000-10,000 years.
Like so much of the Coalition Government’s legislation, it’s extremely clumsy and badly worded. It was drawn up on a whim, and was not subject to detailed scrutiny within Cabinet or by cabinet committees. It doesn’t seem to know what exactly it is trying to do or why it is trying to do it. The legislation is so flawed that the former Labour Home Secretary, David Blunkett (hardly someone who could be called a ‘homophobe’ or a ‘bigot’), described it as a ‘ complete dog’s dinner’.
Careful scrutiny of all proposed legislation and its wording is essential, because without it, it can all too easily lead to unintended consequences.
Let me be clear: I am not anti-homosexual by any means. I have no interest in intervening in the private lives of consenting adults. I believe gay couples should have next-of-kin rights in hospitals, and I believe ALL inheritance tax is fundamentally immoral. On that basis, I believe that one gay person should be able to hand his or her inheritance on to their partner without taxation. I believe homosexuals should be treated fairly and without discrimination in the workplace. I believe that physical or verbal abuse of homosexuals should be vigorously punished by the courts.
Yet this legislation, however well-intentioned, could lead to a number of unintended consequences for society as a whole. It leaves some very serious questions which have not yet been answered:
1. How is adultery defined in same-sex marriage?
Adultery is one of the key grounds for divorce in heterosexual marriage. Government lawyers recently admitted they could not agree on what constitutes sexual intercourse in same-sex relationships. I don’t want to get too graphic on here, but it seems to me it’s especially hard to define between two women. It is also fairly easy to work out why many gay men may choose to abstain from anal intercourse on the grounds of safety, health and hygiene.
Therefore, in a gay ‘marriage’, a man can claim divorce on the grounds of adultery if he has sex with a woman, but not if he does so with another man. Similarly, a woman can claim adultery if her ‘wife’ has sex with a man, but not with another woman. This may well lead to adultery being removed as a ground for divorce altogether, which would cause a fundamental redefinition of marriage.
2. How will consummation be defined?
In a heterosexual marriage, failure to consummate is a ground for an annulment. Since a definition of what constitutes sexual intercourse in a homosexual relationship cannot be agreed upon, where does this leave the requirement to consummate?
3. Will the rights of religious groups REALLY be protected?
Mr Cameron assures us that no religious institution will be forced to marry homosexual couples if it has a moral objection to it, but is this really true?
Certain gay rights groups have made no secret of the fact they plan to test this under the Human Rights Act, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into our legal system. Let’s not forget that this is the same ‘Human Rights Act’ that presents our government from deporting Islamic terrorists, forces the State to pay benefits to convicted criminals, and has ruled that we must give prisoners the vote in Parliamentary elections (in the long run). It is quite possible religious and moral objections to ‘gay marriage’ will not be seen as acceptable grounds to deny ceremonies on religious premises under the Act.
Therefore, this will leave churches, mosques, synagogues and all other religious places of worship no choice but to stop offering wedding ceremonies altogether.
In a free society, it is quite right that the rules for voluntary religious groups, and groups of conscience are free from Parliamentary and judicial interference. Rules for the Roman Catholic Church are made by the Holy See, and the Anglican Church by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the General Synod.
4. Parliamentary legislation
How many pieces of Parliamentary legislation include the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’? These will now all have to be redefined. There are certainly many hundreds. Has anybody bothered counting?
5. Lack of mandate
Three days before the 2010 General Election, during an interview with Sky News’s Political Editor, Adam Boulton, Mr Cameron said that he had ‘no plans’ to introduce gay marriage. It was not in the Conservative or Lib Dem manifestos, nor was it in the Coalition agreement.
Outside the fashionable parts of London in which those close to government operate, there is a great deal of opposition to this.
Britain has a rapidly growing Muslim population. In 1991, there were 950,000 Muslims living in Britain. By 2010, this had risen to 2,869,000, more than trebling the Muslim population. It is very likely that Britain will be an Islamic society within 60 or 70 years, even if mass immigration ends. Muslims tend to be younger and have larger families than the non-Muslim population. All that is required is a basic understanding of mathematics to understand how this is going to happen.
A Gallup poll surveyed 1,001 British Muslims in 2009 and showed that NOT ONE of them thought that homosexual acts were morally acceptable. Other polls have shown that a significant number of young British Muslims believe that the death penalty should be enforced for homosexuals. Therefore, it’s safe to say that demand for ‘gay marriage’ among the Islamic community is very low indeed.
Furthermore, the majority of mainstream Christians are opposed to homosexual acts, especially in Northern Ireland and Presbyterian Scotland. Immigration from Eastern Europe during the last decade has seen a surge in the number of practising Roman Catholics in Britain, with many formerly struggling churches now having healthy numbers in attendance. The Roman Catholic Church has made it clear on numerous occasions that it firmly believes that a marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
Similar objections can be found among many in the Sikh, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu communities. The government has NO MANDATE for this legislation.
6. An unwise use of Parliamentary time
Let us be clear: ‘Civil Partnerships’ have been legal in Britain since December 2005 – more than seven years ago. There are just 100,000 people, in ‘civil partnerships’ today. That’s about 0.2% of the population. Most homosexuals have no intention of making a formal, legal, lifelong commitment to a single partner.
Therefore, would it not be wiser to use Parliamentary time on more pressing matters, such as Britian’s relationship with the European Union, the ongoing economic crisis, controlling immigrations, repealing the Human Rights Act, and dealing with our looming energy crisis?
However nice gay marriage may or may not sound in theory, these six key points give us all serious cause for concern with regards to the unintended consequences of the legislation. It may well be that some of these points are addressed when the Bill reaches the House of Lords, a mature, calm and thoughtful institution. It contrasts sharply with the Commons, which consists largely of career politicians who vote for whatever legislation will most likely enhance their own climb up the greasy poll to the Front Bench.
European policy, ensuring overseas aid is wisely spent, and military intervention in foreign conflicts are all areas where this Coalition Government has failed to develop, scrutinise and manage policy in a businesslike and professional way. We can now add ‘gay marriage’ to that list, and it will have unintended consequences for society as a whole.