The Waddington amendment reads:
“For the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.”Quite apart from its obvious common sense, the amendment is important for our building of a culture of life in Britain. SPUC is not a religious organization, but I know from experience that many of our members, of all faiths and none, would fully concur with Pope John Paul II's words in Evangelium Vitae (97):
"it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection."Last year I welcomed Bishop Campbell's translation of Pope Benedict's 2008 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia. (Bishop Campbell is now the bishop of Lancaster.)
It was clearer than ever from this papal address, given two days before Christmas, that Catholic teaching on the full truth about human sexuality - "the nature of the human being as man and woman" - is intimately linked with Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life.
In an illuminating passage, Pope Benedict urges the world to re-read Humanae Vitae. He reminds mankind, showing no fear of the hostility of politically-correct opponents of church teaching:
"The great Scholastic theologians have characterised matrimony, the life-long bond between man and woman, as a sacrament of creation, instituted by the Creator himself and which Christ – without modifying the message of creation – has incorporated into the history of his covenant with mankind ... Beginning from this perspective, it would be beneficial to read again the Encyclical Humanae Vitae: the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against sexuality as a consumer entity, the future as opposed to the exclusive pretext of the present, and the nature of man against its manipulation ... "
Paul Lennon, SPUC's parliamentary consultant, provides the following background to yesterday's amendment:
"When the Government last year introduced a new offence of inciting ‘homophobic hatred’, a free speech shield was tabled by Lord Waddington and accepted by the Government in May 2008 because they did not want to loose the Bill. However, they said that they would repeal it at the first opportunity.Comments on this blog? Email them to email@example.com
"In March this year MPs agreed to delete it. However, this was reversed by the House of Lords in July. Earlier this week, the House of Commons overturned it, but last night Peers fought back and insisted on their disagreement. The Government then backed down.
"The free speech clause reads: “For the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.”
"Once again, the House of Lords voted in favour of the pro-family Waddington amendment to the Coroners and Justice Bill. By 179 votes to 135 the House voted to insist on the amendment. Some very strong speeches from Lord Waddington, Baroness Butler-Sloss, Lord Dear, Lord MacKay of Clashfern, the Bishop of Winchester, Lord Clarke of Hampstead, Lord Henley (who announced the Conservatives had a free vote), Baroness Falkner who spoke for the Lib Dems (who had a free vote) and Baroness Paisley. The only speakers against were Baroness Turner (known as “Old Labour”) and Lord Smith of Finsbury.
"The Government have now backed down and will no longer disagree to the Waddington amendment. A motion has been tabled by Justice Secretary Jack Straw – which will be debated for up to one hour this morning - to agree with the Waddington amendment. This is a very big pro-family victory. The debate can be seen here."
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