Saturday, 29 June 2013

Far-sighted policies in Australia are blocking same-sex marriage extremists

John Howard, former
Australian Prime Minister
I am grateful to Father John Fleming, SPUC's bioethics adviser, for his contribution to my blog today. Fr Fleming provides the historical background/explanation as to how the Federal Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia continues to reject legislation aimed at the recognition of same sex relationships as a marriage relationship.

Fr Fleming writes:
Prior to 1961 the states and territories administered marriage laws which could vary from state to state. The Marriage Act 1961 brought marriage law in Australia under the exclusive supervision of the Commonwealth Government.

The Marriage Act did not define marriage but provided in section 46 that a marriage celebrant had to state that “marriage according to the law of Australia is the union between a man and a woman voluntarily entered into for life”. Responding to the contemporary agitation for the legal recognition of same sex marriage, the Howard Government in 2004 had the Marriage Act amended in two important ways.

1. Marriage was defined in section 5(1). The amendment says this: “Marriage according to the law of Australia is the union between a man and a woman voluntarily entered into for life.” That amendment was passed.
2. Section 88EA was also added to the Marriage Act. This provided that a union solemnised in a foreign country between (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman: must not be recognised in Australia.

So it was that in 2004 the situation vis a vis so-called “same sex marriage” was legally settled. Undeterred, in 2012 the same sex marriage lobby in the Commonwealth Parliament sought to have the amendments passed in 2004 overturned. On 19 September 2012, a bill introduced by Labor MP Stephen Jones aimed at legalizing same-sex marriage was debated and clearly defeated 42 to 98 votes.

If such a full frontal attack on the 2004 amendments was politically unattainable at the present moment, same sex marriage promoters then sought to attack only the second of the amendments which provided that such “marriages” solemnised in foreign countries would not and could not be recognised in the Commonwealth of Australia.

Accordingly Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young introduced new legislation into the Senate (the upper house). The Bill was titled Marriage Act Amendment (Recognition of Foreign Marriages for Same-Sex couples) Bill 2013 and, if passed, would have successfully repealed the second of the two 2004 amendments. The strategy was to suggest that Australia could at least be "fair" and recognise all of the marriages solemnised legally in foreign jurisdictions.

On the 20th June 2013, the Liberal/National Coalition Parties together with several ALP (Australian Labor Party) Senators rejected the Bill at the second reading Stage, 44-28.

It would appear to be unlikely that there will be changes to Australian law favourable to the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in the next five to six years at least. With the almost certain advent of a conservative (ie Liberal/National Coalition) government in September 2013, such a change is very unlikely.

Australia owes former Prime Minister John Howard, the government, and the Parliament of 2004 a major debt of gratitude. Its pre-emptive strike in 2004, introducing pro-marriage amendments to the Marriage Act, has created a bulwark against moves which would have the effect of redefining the natural institution of marriage to include homosexual partnerships, a move which if successful, is contemptuous of the needs of children, and might well have a significant negative impact on the freedoms of the citizens to act according to his or her religious beliefs and to openly dissent from the recognition of such partnerships, especially in schools, hospitals, universities and the like.
SPUC has published a position paper on same-sex marriage – explaining why SPUC campaigns for real marriage, and a background paper to be read in conjunction with the position paper and which provides some additional references and reflections.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Friday, 28 June 2013

Five-year old Jude sings out for the unborn child



I heard this morning from Margaret Cuthill, who runs ARCH (Abortion Recovery Care and Helpline), an organization which offers help for women, men and families to restore their lives and relationships after an abortion experience. It is committed to exposing the truth of abortion’s tragedy in our community that women deserve better than abortion. It's funded by the SPUC Education and Research Trust.

Margaret was forwarding to me a message she had received from David Joseph McAteer who wrote to her as follows:
"Hello, I'm DJ Mc Ateer, I'm a learning disability nurse. I also compose songs. I was wondering how I could help give a voice to the unborn, so I wrote a song from their perspective. I then got my wee boy to sing it and made a prolife video. I think it is an effective tool in changing peoples mind sets. Please feel free to share this. I have had so much positive feedback about the song already. Many thanks DJ McAteer PS If it saves even one baby, it'll be worth it!"
I repeat David's kind invitation: Please feel free to share this. Let's help David and Jude and their beautiful song to save many babies' lives and to save their mums from the tragedy of an abortion.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Mitochondrial research will cost lives

SPUC has responded to today's announcement by Professor Dame Sally Davies, the government's chief medical officer, that the government intends to bring forth draft regulations to allow the abnormal creation of human embryos in order to address mitochondrial diseases. In a statement, Dame Sally described the research as "life-saving treatment".

In fact, the vast majority of embryonic children created in the laboratory are killed because they do not meet the 'quality control' requirements dictated by scientists involved in such increasingly macabre experiments. Also, over the past 20 years, proponents of human embryo experimentation have repeatedly claimed that such research offered the promise - and perhaps the only hope - of finding treatments for serious diseases. The public has been repeatedly misled. It is the biotech industry's excuse to create a genetically manipulated baby.

Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Tower Hamlets Council gets it wrong over teaching children about sex in science lessons

“Keep sex out of science lessons” was the key message from a demonstration of parents outside Arnhem Wharf Primary school in east London, organised by Tower Hamlets Parents' Action Group – SRE, and supported by SPUC Safe at School.

80 parents (pictured - click photo for high resolution) gathered outside the school between 2-3pm yesterday at exactly the time when Year 6 children inside the school were being shown sexually-explicit images in a science lesson from which their parents were unable to withdraw them.

Following the demonstration Tower Hamlets Council issued the following statement:
"All primary schools are required by law to teach every child the scientific aspects of human reproduction; which includes naming the body parts and reproduction.

"We would like to reassure parents the subject is taught with sensitivity, according to guidelines and its content is constantly reviewed. At Arnhem Wharf Primary School it is taught to pupils from Year 5 – those aged at least nine – not children aged five, as some parents had been led to believe.

"There is a wealth of evidence that demonstrates how useful young people find such education and Ofsted recently warned that a lack of high-quality, age-appropriate sex and relationships education (SRE) may leave children vulnerable to inappropriate sexual behaviours and sexual exploitation.

"Our schools are aware that this is a sensitive subject and they consult with parents regularly, providing copies of the teaching material in advance. The vast majority of parents fully welcome the teaching of SRE and recognise the vital role it plays in their child’s education. For example, only three of the 120 children in Years 5 and 6 at Arnhem Wharf have been withdrawn by their parents from the non-statutory elements of SRE. We would urge anyone with concerns to hold a constructive meeting with their headteacher."
Commenting on the statement Antonia Tully of Safe at School told the media today:
"Tower Hamlets Council have got this wrong. There is nothing in the primary National Curriculum for Science which mandates schools to teach children at Key Stages 1 and 2 about sexual organs and sexual intercourse in humans. Teachers are interpreting the curriculum to mean this.

Many parents in Tower Hamlets have read the national curriculum for themselves and they are quite clear about this.

The new draft National Curriculum was published earlier this year. There were some important changes to the science curriculum at Key Stage 1. In the new draft curriculum, non-statutory notes and guidance at Key Stage 1 contains a list of body parts children need to learn. This list does not include the sex organs. The notes also indicate that sexual intercourse is not to be covered at this stage.

These significant amendments to the primary science curriculum constitute a response from Department of Education to the growing concern among parents, like those in Tower Hamlets, that the primary science curriculum is taking away their right to protect their children from sex education.  

The Tower Hamlet Parents' Action Group never suggested that children as young as five were receiving sexually-explicit science lessons. The child at the centre of the controversy which prompted the demonstration is Anisah Alam who is in Year 6.

I challenge Tower Hamlets Council to produce the 'wealth of information that demonstrates how useful young people find such education'. Our research shows quite the opposite. The Council may wish to look at Wiggins M, Bonell C et al., 'Health outcomes of youth development programme in England, prospective matched comparison study.' (BMJ 2009; 339:b2534). This landmark study showed that delivering intensive sex education to young teenagers resulted in 3.5 times as many girls getting pregnant than in the control group. This sort of study does not suggest that teaching children in primary school about sex will result in delayed sexual activity.

I would also like to point out to Tower Hamlets Council that over 10,000 local people, mainly parents, signed a petition last year objecting strongly to the presence of the sexually-explicit teaching programme, the Christopher Winter Project, in Tower Hamlets Schools. This is the resource that was being used on the afternoon of 26 June in Arnhem Wharf Primary School.

The continuing complaint of parents in the borough is that they are unable to have 'a constructive meeting with their headteacher'.  One headteacher admitted to parents that she knew she didn't have to teach sex in science lessons, but that she wanted to.

There is total confusion surrounding the National Curriculum for science at Key Stages 1 and 2. The Government needs to issue an urgent statement to Local Authorities about exactly what must be taught."
Also pictured are this summer's SPUC interns who attended and assisted at the protest:


Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Thu 27 June

Top stories:

Double standards at UK's advertising industry watchdog
The UK's advertising watchdog has been accused on double-standards as it conducts an investigation into a newspaper advertisement about the government's bill on same-sex marriage. SPUC, which produced the advertisement, said the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was protecting election advertising by politicians but censoring non-election advertising about bills proposed by politicians. SPUC's advertisement warned that "gay relationships will be promoted in schools" if the Government's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) bill becomes law. [SPUC, 26 June]

National petition opposing school lessons in pornography
SPUC has launched a petition to protect school children from the latest anti-life idea – pornography lessons in the classroom. Porn lessons are being promoted by the Sex Education Forum (SEF). These lessons are not about how to avoid pornography, they are about dangling porn in front of young school pupils and encouraging them to embrace it in their lives. [SPUC. 25 June] Read more and act now

Other stories:

Abortion
Euthanasia
Sexual ethics
General
Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Double standards at UK's advertising industry watchdog

The UK's advertising watchdog has been accused of double-standards as it conducts an investigation into a newspaper advertisement about the government's bill on same-sex marriage.

SPUC, which produced the advertisement, said the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was protecting election advertising by politicians but censoring non-election advertising about bills proposed by politicians. SPUC made the accusation in a reply to the ASA sent today (see correspondence below), further to its response to the ASA of 21 June, in which SPUC accused the ASA of political censorship.

SPUC's advertisement warned that "gay relationships will be promoted in schools" if the Government's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) bill becomes law. The ASA launched its investigation after a complaint alleged that the statement was "misleading". The ASA has demanded that SPUC substantiate its claim.

The ASA replied on 24 June to SPUC's response of 21 June as follows:
Dear Mr Smeaton

Thank you for responding to the complaint. The next stage of the investigation is for me to draft a recommendation which will be circulated to SPUC and the complainant for any comments before the case is presented to the ASA Council.

Regarding your comment about the 1979 “Labour isn’t working ad”, the ASA’s remit does not extend to political advertising. Please refer to our website for more information http://www.asa.org.uk/Industry-advertisers/Industry-what-we-regulate/Complaints-outside-remit.aspx. However, ads for causes or ideas do fall within our remit. Please see for example the similar case involving Coalition for Marriage http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2012/6/Coalition-For-Marriage-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_192907.aspx

I will be in touch again in due course with a Draft Recommendation. Thank you for your patience in the meantime.

Kind regards

Lucy (Crowe)
(Investigations Executive, Advertising Standards Authority)
SPUC replied today to the ASA as follows:
Dear Ms Crowe

Thank you for your email.

I note that the ASA Code states that “for reasons of freedom of speech, [you] do not have a remit over non-broadcast ads where the purpose of the ad is to persuade voters in a local, national or international election or referendum” but that said, you apparently consider that advertisements concerning proposed legislation are not a matter for free speech. So far as the ASA is concerned politicians can speak freely to the people but the people cannot speak freely to politicians. You say “ads for causes or ideas do fall within our remit”. Our advertisement was not for a “cause or idea” (whatever is meant by that); it was about proposed legislation.  If organisations cannot publish advertisements concerning the impact of proposed legislation without the ASA demanding in effect that they are objectively justifiable then that truly is a fetter on free speech. The right to comment on the legislative process is fundamental to democracy.  It is absolutely ridiculous that at the behest of a single complainant and in respect of proposed and not even finalised legislation, the ASA is going to be arbiter of what is and what is not misleading. Who is the ASA to gainsay the impact of proposed legislation? As I made clear in my email of 21 June 2013 the overwhelming feeling is that the ASA does not fully appreciate the ramifications of what it is doing.

You thank me for my patience. I have no patience on this matter I am afraid . You took a month to bring your complaint, then chivvied us for a response within 14 days and demurred when we took 21 days. Now that the matter is back with you speak airily of being “in touch again in due course”. If you impose arbitrary deadlines then at least have the courtesy to deal with matters with the same dispatch you demand of others.       

Yours sincerely

John Smeaton
(Chief Executive, SPUC)
Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy

Monday, 24 June 2013

Must-read pro-life news-stories, Mon 24 June

Top stories:

Write to the French Embassy in London to demand the release of Nicolas
French pro-life/pro-family colleagues have contacted SPUC and asked us to highlight the fate of Nicolas Bernard-Buss, a young protester against same-sex marriage, who has been sentenced to two months in prison for the alleged crime of "rebellion" and other questionable offences. His case seems to be one of the worst of a large number of similar cases of police persecution directed against the hundreds of thousands of French people who have protested in recent months against same-sex marriage. Please contact the French Embassy in London to demand his release and the end of police persecution of protesters against same-sex marriage: His Excellency Bernard EmiƩ, Ambassador, French Embassy in the United Kingdom, 58 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7JT Tel: 020 7073 1000 Email: presse.londres-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr [John Smeaton, 22 June]

Tower Hamlets parents protest about abuse of science National Curriculum
Parents in Tower Hamlets will be taking to the street to protest about children being taught about sex in science lessons, which they claim is an abuse of the National Curriculum. While children at Arnhem Wharf Primary School, E14 3RP, are having a statutory science lesson on the afternoon of 26 June, parents from around the borough will be staging a protest outside the school against the content of the lesson taking place inside. Safe at School is supporting the protest which has been organised by the Tower Hamlets Parents Action Group - SRE. [SPUC, 22 June]

Advertising watchdog accused of political censorship
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been accused of political censorshop for launching a spurious investigation into an advertisement against same-sex marriage. The ASA launched the formal investigation after it received one complaint against a newspaper advertisement placed by the SPUC. The advertisement warned that "gay relationships will be promoted in schools" if the Government's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) bill becomes law. The complaint alleged that the statement was "misleading". The ASA has demanded that SPUC substantiate its claim. SPUC has today replied to the ASA with a robust letter accusing the ASA of "trespassing on freedom of expression in the political field". [SPUC, 21 June]

Help us stop science lessons being used to teach sex to primary school children
SPUC's Safe at School campaign has campaigned vigorously against the abuse of the National Curriculum for science at Key Stages 1 and 2. Primary schools around the country have been teaching children about sex in compulsory science lessons from which their parents cannot withdraw them. This is a blatant attack on parents’ rights to protect their children from sex lessons they consider inappropriate. [John Smeaton, 20 June] Action points:
  1. Parents of primary school children should ask to see the lesson plans for science classes to find out if sex is being taught.
  2. Parents should contact Safe at School straight away if their child’s primary school is abusing the national curriculum.
  3. Order copies of the latest edition of SPUC's campaign bulletin on sex and relationships education - by email to orders@spuc.org.uk or by telephoning 020 7091 7091.
Other stories:

Abortion
  • Women Deliver Conference 2013: do women have a right to kill but no right to conceive? [SPUC youth blog, 24 June]
  • All-Ireland Rally for Life, 6 July, Garden of Remembrance, Dublin [Pat Buckley, 24 June]
  • Ireland's Catholic bishops sent anti-abortion leaflet to all parishes [Irish Times, 24 June]
  • New Down's Syndrome test leads to fears of an increase in abortions [Mail, 23 June]
  • New Irish opinion poll shows strong support for a free vote on abortion and for a referendum rather than the currently proposed Government legislation [Pat Buckley, 21 June]
  • Obese UK woman had abortion to have gastric band operation [Sun, 21 June]
  • Maternal and neonatal health better in Ireland than in Great Britain, reports the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons [Pat Buckley, 20 June]
Embryology
Euthanasia
  • Judge gave decision on life-saving treatment over his mobile - while at the zoo [Mail, 24 June]
Population
Sexual ethics
Comments on this blog? Email them to johnsmeaton@spuc.org.uk
Sign up for alerts to new blog-posts and/or for SPUC's other email services
Follow SPUC on Twitter
Like SPUC's Facebook Page
Please support SPUC. Please donate, join, and/or leave a legacy