Friday, 1 February 2013

Russian parliament and British government move in opposite directions on sexualisation of children

Last month I wrote about how the government was funding the Terrence Higgins Trust to teach homosexual practices in schools and I reproduced a letter I had sent to headteachers throughout Britain warning about the impact on schools of the government's same-sex marriage bill becoming law. If the government's legislation reaches the statute books I warned that schools would face:

• Compulsory teaching of same-sex marriage
• Dismissal for teachers with a conscientious objection to teaching about same-sex marriage
• No opt-out for faith schools
• Further promotion of homosexual activity in schools
• Parents undermined.

By way of complete contrast, I received today the following message from a pro-family campaigner in Russia who wrote:
Dear Natural Family supporters,

We in Russia feel deep compassion for our British brothers and sisters who have to fight an increasing attacks on the natural family, as we see in this upcoming vote in the British parliament on the so called "same sex marriage". By contrast in the Russian parliament a new bill banning on the federal level all LGBT propaganda to minors is being considered right now. Isn`t it amazing?

On February 7th in Moscow the IV International Forum for Safe Internet - a Regional World Congress of Families Event - will take place at the RIA-Novosti - Russia`s leading news agency - with participation of 500 top experts in this field, and keynote speeches by the leading international experts in the field of fighting pornography and sexualization of children Dr. Judith Reisman (USA), Calvina Fay - CEO of the Drug Free America Foundation (USA + 40 countries) and Jack Hannick - Fox News director for 15 years - who will share his experience in promoting values through the internet. So this is another area where we dare say Russia is a leader - in 2012 a new federal law has been passed restricting bad content on the web - pornography, etc. And as you may know Russia has initiated a Resolution at the U.N. protecting traditional values.

Sincerely yours,
Alexey Y. Komov, MBA
World Congress of Families Representative in Russia and CIS - worldcongress.ru
WCF Ambassador to the U.N. - worldcongress.org
President FamilyPolicy.ru Advocacy Group
St. Basil the Great Foundation Director - www.ruscharity.ru
Safe Internet League Board member - www.ligainternet.ru
In these difficult times, when the British government appears to be attempting to usher in a new age of barbarism, it is important to know that in another major nation a wholly different direction is being pursued.

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Thursday, 31 January 2013

SPUC responds to the government's "Myths about Equal Marriage" document

David Cameron, the British prime minister
Will the government’s “equal marriage” proposals strengthen marriage or undermine the institution of marriage?

When it published the Marriage (same-sex couples) Bill, the government issued a document claiming that criticisms of the proposals were "myths".

Here, SPUC responds to the government’s attempts to rebut the arguments against redefining marriage:

The government’s assertions
"MYTH: Allowing same-sex couples to marry will destroy the institution of marriage.
REALITY: Marriage is a hugely important institution in this country. The principles of long-term commitment and responsibility which underpin it bind society together and make it stronger. The Government believes that we should not prevent people getting married unless there are very good reasons – and loving someone of the same sex is not one of them."

SPUC Comment:
SPUC’s leaflet on same-sex marriage urges people: “Don’t let politicians destroy real marriage.” What makes marriage special and unique is that a man and woman can form a special union suited to conceiving and raising children. The long-term commitment and responsibility of marriage are merely conditions of forming that special union. Children have a right to know and be cared for by their mother and father, hence the need for the permanent exclusive nature of marriage.

Historically, the State has recognised this. There is no rationale for a same-sex couples to ‘marry’ and no requirement for the State to recognise such a ‘marriage’ (and, of course, the Government does not say why polygamists or siblings are not included in ‘equal marriage’ if same-sex couples are). By re-defining marriage in the way proposed the Government is transforming civil marriage into a mere contract for cohabitation.

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: Marriage has not changed in hundreds of years.
REALITY: Marriage is not static. It has always been an evolving institution. In the 19th century inequalities prevented Catholics, atheists, Baptists and many others from marrying except in the Anglican Church. In the 20th century the law was changed to recognise married men and married women as equal before law. Opening up marriage to all couples will strengthen the vital institution of marriage, and help ensure that it remains an essential building block of society.”

SPUC Comment:
Legalising same-sex marriage radically alters the civil recognition of the essential nature of marriage – which is heterosexual. In contrast, the 19th and 20th century changes referred to did not radically undermine this essential nature.

The government says: “Opening up marriage to all couples will strengthen the vital institution of marriage.” But firstly, reducing all marriage to contractual cohabitation does nothing to strengthen it. Nor does it assist children because marriage, not contractual cohabitation, is their best protection. Secondly, there is no credible evidence that the decline in couples marrying can be slowed down or reversed by extending it to same-sex couples.

What we have seen around the world is same-sex marriage being introduced either as part of a general decline in marriage (which however could still decline much further) or where marriage is already in deep decline, in the context of a general libertarianism which trivialises and is fundamentally hostile to marriage. Marriage in Scandinavia, for example, is already in deep decline. There is not the slightest evidence that SSM has ‘strengthened’ real marriage.

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: Religious organisations or minister of religion will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages.
REALITY: This is not true. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill makes clear that no religious organisation or religious minister will be compelled to marry same-sex couples. A ‘quadruple lock’ of legal protections will ensure that all religious organisations are free to choose and can act according to their doctrines and beliefs.
MYTH: The European Court of Human Rights will force religious organisations to conduct same-sex marriages.
REALITY: The case law of the European Court of Human Rights makes it clear that same-sex marriage is a matter for individual states to decide. Any case before the Court would be brought against the UK Government, not a religious organisation. The Court would be bound to give priority to the rights of a religious organisation under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of religion.“

SPUC Comment:
A legal expert, Aidan O’Neill QC of Matrix Chambers, has produced the following Advice regarding the scenario of a same-sex couple refused a Church of England wedding who wish to sue the clergyman and church under the Equality Act 2010, alleging discrimination on grounds of sex and sexual orientation.

“In the scenario outlined above, given that sex/gender and sexual orientation are protected characteristics against discrimination recognised in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, a same sex couple would have a properly arguable claim before the Strasbourg Court that any national legislation which purports to allow to the established church a blanket exemption from any claims of discrimination (whether on grounds of the sexual orientation of the parties or the sex/gender of one of them) in the provision of (marriage) services which the established church is otherwise obliged by law to make available to the general public (regardless of whether those individuals are members of the established church) is Convention incompatible.” (See: c4m.org.uk/downloads/legalopinionsummary.pdf)

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: The Church of England and Church in Wales were not consulted properly.
REALITY: During the course of both the consultation and the drafting of the legislation, the Government has had numerous and detailed discussions with stakeholders about the provisions within the Bill. These discussions have included a number of religious organisations including the Church of England, the Catholic Church and the Church in Wales.”

SPUC Comment:
The only consultation has been of the meaningless type where the Government announces in advance that it will, whatever the cost to - or views of - the people, churches etc. push through same-sex marriage, though it will listen to views as to how to ‘implement’ this.

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: Teachers will have to promote same-sex marriage to pupils in sex and relationships education.
REALITY: This is not true. No teacher will be required to promote or endorse views which go against their beliefs. As with any other area of the curriculum teachers will of course be required to teach the factual position, that under the law marriage can be between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples. …… Sex and relationships education is categorically not about the promotion of a particular sexual orientation - that would be inappropriate teaching.”

SPUC Comment:
Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, has said, “Teachers will continue to be able to describe their own belief that marriage is between a man and a woman while, importantly, acknowledging that there can also be same-sex marriages.” Where does this leave a teacher who shares the conviction that same-sex ‘marriage’ really is not marriage? Can he or she tell pupils that although the law permits it, “same-sex marriage” is a counterfeit?

The Minister for Women and Equalities, Helen Grant, has spelt out the consequences for teachers (see following comment).

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: Teachers who oppose same-sex marriage will be sacked from their jobs.
REALITY: Teachers will continue to have the clear right to express their own beliefs, or that of their faith in a professional way, such as that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. No teacher will be required to promote or endorse views which go against their beliefs.”

SPUC Comment:
Helen Grant, Women and Equalities minister at the DCMS, in a letter dated 19th October 2012 concedes that “It will always be a matter for the head to determine what teachers under his control should be teaching and he/she will have a range of disciplinary measures at their disposal if they are needed including ultimately dismissal.”

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: This is the thin end of the wedge – further changes to the law to enable other groups to marry are likely.
REALITY: This is simply not the case - we have absolutely no plans to amend the law on marriage in any other area.”

SPUC Comment:
What the Government ‘plans’ (and they have been known to change plans!) is not the point. The rationale that justifies same-sex marriage can also justify other forms of ‘marriage’ and by legalising same–sex marriage one lays oneself open to reasonable objections from other groups with regard to discrimination. Having got rid of the rationale of marriage supported by the State – the life-giving, child-centred nature of the institution – how will the Government defend itself against the claims of other unions to be recognised?

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: You did not take into account the large number of petitions received opposing a change in the law.
REALITY: 228,000 individuals and organisations responded to the consultation on how to open up marriage to same-sex couples. Additionally there were petitions for and against equal marriage. The largest was from the Coalition for Marriage against the proposals which contained over 500,000 signatures opposed to the proposals. The views expressed in the petitions were considered along with all the other responses received. However, the Government have always been clear that the consultation was focused on how to implement a change in the law, rather than whether to change the law.”

SPUC Comment:
Note this last point – about the aim of the consultation – and compare the following -

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: The Government has no mandate to introduce same-sex marriage.
REALITY: The Conservative Party’s Contract for Equalities, published alongside its General Election Manifesto in 2010, set out clearly that we would consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage. Independent surveys, such as the one carried out by the Times in March 2012, show support by the general public with 65% thinking gay couples should have an equal right to marry, not just to have civil partnerships.”

SPUC Comment:
- the Government admit that their consultation exercise was about “how to implement a change in the law,” but the mandate they claim for doing so was to “consider the case for changing the law”. When did the idea of considering the case for changing the law become a matter of “how” (not whether) to do so?

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: People will be sacked if they criticise same-sex marriage at work.
REALITY: This is not true. We have always been absolutely clear that being able to follow your faith openly is a vital freedom that we will protect. Everyone is entitled to express their view about same-sex marriage, at work or elsewhere. No employee will be required to promote or endorse views about same-sex marriage which go against their conscience. But it is an entirely different matter to act in an offensive or discriminatory way because of someone’s sexual orientation and the two issues should not be confused.“
“MYTH: The four recent European Court cases show that people are not free to follow their beliefs at work.
REALITY: On the contrary, Ms Eweida won her right to wear a cross at work. These cases were not about same-sex marriage. However, we have always been absolutely clear that being able to follow your faith openly is a vital freedom that we will protect. We believe people should be able to wear discrete religious symbols, provided it doesn't hinder or physically get in the way of their job. In the other cases the Court found that the needs of health and safety and the requirement not to discriminate against customers were relevant considerations, on the facts of those particular cases – it is all about striking a sensible balance, which our legislation does.”

SPUC Comment:
One of the ‘other cases’ referred to relates to a registrar’s refusal to act as a ‘civil partnership registrar’ (a re-designation of her role forced upon her by Islington Council in light of the 2004 Civil Partnership Act). In other words, the case is highly relevant for what the Government says about same-sex marriage legislation (a Government that itself admits there is little difference between civil partnerships and marriage).
The lady in question, Lillian Ladele, has a well-grounded conscientious objection to performing civil partnership ceremonies but, in the words of the ECHR judges who disagreed the majority verdict in the case,

“a combination of back-stabbing and blinkered political correctness of the Borough of Islington (which clearly favoured ‘gay rights’ over fundamental human rights) eventually led to her dismissal.”

The dissenting judges go on to point out that:

“the issue in Ms Ladele’s case is not one of discrimination by an employer, a public authority or a public official vis-a-vis a service user of the Borough of Islington because of the said service-user’s sexual orientation. Indeed, no service user or prospective service user of the Borough seems to have ever complained (unlike some of her homosexual colleagues) about the third applicant [Ms Ladele]. The complainant is not a party or prospective party to a same-sex civil partnership...No balancing exercise can, therefore, be carried out between the third applicant’s concrete right to conscientious objection, which is one of the most fundamental rights inherent in the human person – a right which is not given by the Convention but is recognised and protected by it – and a legitimate State or public authority policy which seeks to protect rights in the abstract...Ms Ladele did not fail in her duty of discretion: she did not publicly express her beliefs to service users. Her beliefs had no impact on the content of her job, but only on its extent. She never attempted to impose her beliefs on others, nor was she in any way engaged, openly or surreptitiously, in subverting the rights of others.”

Nevertheless, this woman was sacked from her job, a job she took on before Civil Partnership legislation was even envisaged. The majority in the ECHR rejected her appeal and the Government say that her case had a reasonable outcome. This shows clearly that people are not free to follow their beliefs at work and that same-sex marriage legislation will lead to the persecution of those who object to it. See also Aidan O’Neill QC on related cases: c4m.org.uk/downloads/legalopinionsummary.pdf

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: The Trafford Housing case with Adrian Smith shows that people can be sacked because of their religious beliefs.
REALITY: Adrian Smith actually won his case in the High Court, a judgment which shows that expressing views about this type of issue in a measured and non-offensive manner does not permit an employer to discipline an employee. Any such action by an employer would be unlawful.”

SPUC Comment:
Not mentioned is the fact that Mr Smith was reduced to penury and received almost no financial compensation (he had expressed what was at one time David Cameron’s opinion re gay weddings in church).

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: Local councils will stop giving religious groups contracts or letting them use their facilities if they refuse to conduct same-sex marriages.
REALITY: This is not true. The Equality Act 2010 protects people from being discriminated against because of religious belief. Treating someone in this way because of their religious opposition to same-sex marriage would be unlawful discrimination. It would also be a misuse of the council’s powers if it penalised a religious body for doing something which is lawful.”
“MYTH: This Bill is being rushed through Parliament and has not been properly thought through.
REALITY: This is untrue. The Government is committed to introducing same-sex marriage and published a consultation in March 2012 which resulted in the biggest ever response to a UK consultation. The Minister for Women and Equalities made a statement to the house in December 2012 announcing the Government’s intention to bring forward legislation.”

SPUC Comment:
The Government has expressed its determination to push this bill through Parliament, and all the signs (the ‘dodge’ with the manifesto, the ‘how not whether’ consultation, and the late publication of the bill) indicate that the government does not want to allow the host of objections to the proposals to stop it.

The government’s assertions:
“MYTH: Polling shows that the public is not supportive of this policy.
REALITY: This is untrue. Recent polling shows that there are a range of views on this subject. We know that there are many people who are in favour of and supportive of this policy, as shown by 53% of people who responded to our consultation.”

SPUC Comment:
The Government did not ensure that the consultation was strictly monitored, and therefore the consultation responses cannot be taken as representative. Furthermore, they do not count the C4M petition which has over 600,000 signatories: far more than any petition supporting the changes.

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

History exposes the Government's empty assurances on same-sex marriage and schools

Maria Miller, the government's equalities minister, blogged on Friday on the government's assurances regarding conscientious objection to same-sex marriage. Here is what she wrote about schools:
"There has been some debate about how this Bill will affect teachers and teaching about marriage in schools. Let me make it absolutely clear, that teachers will continue to have the clear right to express in a professional way their own beliefs, or that of their faith, such as that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No teacher will be required to promote or endorse views which go against their beliefs. As with any area of the curriculum, teachers will of course be required to teach the factual position that under the law, marriage can be between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples. But, of course they will not be required to promote same-sex marriage, and neither will we be bringing in new powers to sack teachers who disagree with same-sex marriage. There are already many subjects which need to be taught carefully, particularly in faith schools – divorce, for example. The guidance governing these issues is the same guidance that will govern how same sex-marriage is handled. And equally, parents will continue to have the right to withdraw their children from sex education lessons that they do not consider appropriate."
SPUC is continuing to respond to the detail of the government's assurances, such as in our letter to headteachers and in forthcoming documents. What is also needed, however, is a historical perspective on the reliability of assurances given to Parliament. Here are but three examples:
  • In 1967, Parliament was told that the Abortion Act would not lead to mass abortion or to abortion on demand. Today, there are 200,000 abortions annually, almost all authorised with little or no question.
  • In 1990, Parliament was told that an abortion on the grounds that the unborn child had a cleft palate would never be allowed. Today abortions on that ground are performed every year.
  • In 1994, the Sunday Trading Act was passed following assurances that no one would be forced to work on a Sunday. Last month the High Court ruled that Christians have no right to refuse to work on Sundays.
Now let us look at what the senior figures of the three main parties have said in the recent past about homosexuality and schools. Here is what David Cameron, now Prime Minister but then Leader of the Opposition, said during an interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight on 23 April 2010:
Paxman: "You're in favour of faith schools being able to teach sex education as they like".

Cameron:"Not as they like. That's not right. What we voted for was what the government suggested in the end, which is proper sex education..."

Paxman: "Should they be free to teach that homosexuality is wrong, abortion is wrong, contraception is wrong?"

Cameron: "No, and the government discussed this and came up with a good idea, which is to say that we wanted a clearer path of sexual education across all schools, but faith schools were not given any exemption but they were able to reflect some of their own faith in the way that this was taught. But no, you must teach proper lessons in terms of gay equality and also combat homophobic bullying in schools, I think that's extremely important."
Mr Cameron is the most high-profile and powerful politician to make clear that same-sex marriage is essential for 'gay equality'. Therefore it is clear that, for Mr Cameron, "proper sex education" and "proper lessons in terms of gay equality" means forbidding schools from teaching that homosexual marriage is wrong, including because homosexuality is wrong.

Nick Clegg, then only leader of the Liberal Democrats but now also Deputy Prime Minister, was reported by The Independent newspaper on 13 January 2010 to have told Attitude, the homosexual magazine, that all schools, including faith schools, should be forced to teach that homosexuality is "normal and harmless". Interestingly, The Independent also reported that:
"the Tories are unlikely to give full marital rights to gay couples."
And if the Labour party were to lead the government after the 2015 election, we have an indication of what will happen from the comments of Ed Balls, then Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families:
Telegraph, 23 Jan. 2010:
"... Does [Mr Balls] agree with Nick Clegg that faith schools should be forced to teach that homosexuality is normal and harmless? The answer is yes."
[Balls]: "If their faith has a view in scripture, they can inform pupils of that. What they must not do is teach discrimination. They must be absolutely clear about the importance of civil partnerships [and that] bullying of homosexuals is wrong ..." .

Today programme, 23 February 2010:
"[S]chools cannot just ignore these issues or teach only one side of the argument. They also have to teach that there are different views on homosexuality. They cannot teach homophobia. They must explain civil partnership ... [Catholic schools] cannot teach that homosexuality is wrong and that therefore it is OK to discriminate on homosexuality ..."
    Letter to The Times, 23 February 2010:
    "[S]tatutory lessons on sex and relationship education...includes education about contraception and the importance of stable relationships, including marriage and civil partnerships. It will not allow the teaching of homophobia. All maintained schools and academies will be required to teach the full programmes of study. This includes promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity ... The bottom line is that...discrimination is prevented in all schools."
    Thus we know what our political leaders want and where they are leading us. The Government's latest assurances regarding same-sex marriage are empty.

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    Tuesday, 29 January 2013

    Same-sex marriage bill and SPUC youth conference

     1. Same-sex marriage bill - urgent action needed
       
    The government's bill to legalise so-called “same-sex marriage” was launched on 24 January. This will result in a legal redefinition of marriage, setting English law at odds with the timeless and universal social and religious conception of marriage. The critical Second Reading will be on Tuesday 5 February. For the sake of tomorrow’s children, we must persuade as many MPs as possible to vote against it.
    • Please write, phone or email your MP and ask him/her to oppose the marriage bill at its Second Reading.
    • Ask your friends and relatives and pro-life contacts to do the same.
    Action timeline:
    1. Wed 30 Jan to Fri 1 Feb: Write to your MP, asking him/her to oppose the government’s marriage bill (It will be too late to post letters or postcards to MPs after Friday 1st, so we must ask people to telephone or send an email to their MP at this stage.)
    2. Sat 2 Feb to Sun 3 Feb: Email your MP, and ask others – family, fellow church-members etc – to email or phone their MP to oppose the bill
    3. Mon 4 Feb: Telephone or email MPs
    4. Tue 5 Feb: Telephone or email MPs. Second Reading debate and votes (around 7pm)
    5. Wed 6 Feb & after: Unless the bill is defeated in the Second Reading vote, we must continue to urge MPs to oppose it at later stages.
    You can read our briefing notes for lobbying and writing to your MP, but at this point the key thing is for as many people as possible simply to ask their MP to vote against the bill next Tuesday (5 Feb.)

    Last week the Catholic Bishops in England and Wales launched an excellent postcard campaign providing postcards for people to send to MPs calling on them to “Speak Out for Marriage,” and SPUC has encouraged people to support this initiative. However, the Second Reading date was subsequently announced at very short notice, so we must now asking people to telephone or email MPs to make sure they get the message before 5 February. The postcard campaign can still be helpful, but phoning or emailing MPs is most urgent. More information about the Bishops’ postcard campaign can be found on the Bishops’ website: http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/Home/Featured/Speak-Out-For-Marriage

    For further information about the bill, please call SPUC 020 7091 7091, or email political@spuc.org.uk

    2. SPUC International Pro-Life Youth Conference, 22-24 March

    Please encourage young people (16+) to come to SPUC's 6th International Pro-Life Youth Conference, the only pro-life conference of its kind in the UK. This conference has proven a huge success every year and has made an important contribution to renewed pro-life efforts by young people around the country. This weekend conference has been a place where the seed for new pro-life groups has been sown and new friendships forged. SPUC has ensured an exciting line-up of expert speakers in their respective fields, along with fun evening entertainment. This is an event not to be missed!

    Do you know young people, aged 16 years and above, who would like to attend this conference?

    It will take place at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire. The cost for the weekend, which includes all conference fees, meals and accommodation, is £100.

    Speakers will include:
    • Professor Patrick Pullicino, speaking on the Liverpool Care Pathway
    • Dr Lisa Nolland, who will talk about sex education
    • Bioethicist Dr Helen Watt, speaking about pregnancy
    • John Smeaton, CEO of SPUC, addressing pro-life campaigning
    • Barrister James Bogle, speaking on euthanasia
    • Ira Winter, discussing natural family planning
    • SPUC researcher Fiorella Nash will talk about maternal mortality
    • Media expert Anthony Ozimic, who will speak on political campaigning
    • SPUC education officer Katherine Hampton explains the SPUC schools’ talk
    For further information and to make a booking, please see the SPUC website: www.spuc.org.uk   For conference enquiries, please e-mail conference@spuc.org.uk

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    Monday, 28 January 2013

    Must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 28 Jan

    Elton John receives new surrogate baby
    MPs must reject government bill vandalising marriage
    Members of Parliament must reject the government's same-sex marriage bill, as it will "vandalise" marriage. SPUC made the call following the announcement that the bill will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday 5 February, at '2nd reading' (the first main debate on a bill). Paul Tully, SPUC's general secretary, said: "The bill is wrong in principle and must be stopped now. We urge people to contact their MPs immediately to ask them to attend the 2nd reading debate and vote the bill down." [SPUC, 24 January]

    Other recent stories on same-sex marriage:
    Abortion
    Euthanasia
    Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
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