Hidden “conscience clause” would protect religious bigots while stripping LGBTQI people of human rights
In a document not released to the media, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) have suggested that they would introduce a “conscience clause” which would create legal protection for Christians who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
The document, Valuing our Christian Heritage, states that the party, while not rescinding England’s Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013, that the party opposed same-sex marriage and would amend the English law to allow “reasonable accommodation” to those opposing equal marriage on religious grounds.
The document states;
“UKIP opposed same-sex marriage legislation because it impinged upon the beliefs of millions of people of faith. Rushed through Parliament without proper public debate, the legislation is significantly flawed. It should have been subject to a review of the state’s role in marriage. We will not repeal the legislation, as it would be grossly unfair and unethical to ‘un-marry’ loving couples or restrict further marriages, but we will not require churches to marry same-sex couples. We will also extend the legal concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ to give protection in law to those expressing a religious conscience in the workplace on this issue.”
In his introduction to the document, UKIP leader Nigel Farage gives his own views on the subject;
“Sadly, I think UKIP is the only major political party left in Britain that still cherishes our Judaeo-Christian heritage. I believe other parties have deliberately marginalised our nation’s faith, whereas we take Christian values and traditions into consideration when making policy. Take the family, for instance. Traditional Christian views of marriage and family life have come under attack of late, whereas we have no problem in supporting and even promoting conventional marriage as a firm foundation for a secure and happy family.”
The document, the contents of which are not mentioned in the UKIP 2015 manifesto, was not released to the media. It was however distributed to some churches and the strongly anti-gay group Christian concern.
Any such clause would give legal protection to any business which openly refused business to same-sex couples on grounds of their sexuality. Moreover, the wording “We will also extend the legal concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ to give protection in law to those expressing a religious conscience in the workplace on this issue.” could effectively be used by employers to refuse employment to, or even fire, LGBTQI employees on the grounds of their sexuality. And given that two key UKIP policies are the repeal of the UK Human Rights Act, and pulling the UK out of the European Union – where we currently enjoy the protection of the European Convention on Human Rights – that would effectively give those discriminated against with no means of appeal in law.
UKIP claims not to be a bigoted party, and often point to members and politicians they have from various sections of societies, including the LGBTQI community. Sadly, even those have been known to voice bigoted views. Scotland’s only UKIP politician, David Coburn MEP (Member of the European Parlament), who is openly gay and is in a long-standing relationship, has always taken a strong stance against same-sex marriage. In an interview with Huffington Post (30 October 2014), Coburn attacked the subject, expressing his views in deeply offensive terms, stating, “It’s just for some queen who wants to dress up in a bridal frock and in a big moustache and dance up the aisle to the Village People, quite frankly if that’s the cost of upsetting a hell of a lot of people, then I don’t think it’s a price worth paying.”
NIgel Farage claims that UKIP is an all-inclusive and open party, whose manifesto is the best going. When any party hides a ‘manifesto within a manifesto’, particularly one which seeks to strip rights from the LGBTQI community (or anyone for that matter), while attempting to hide those policies from the media and the public in general, then that belies the true nature of that party. Likewise his unequvical opposition to equal marriage and his strong support for “traditional” marriage, coupled with his failure to either reprimand or dismiss David Coburn from the party speaks volumes about Nigel Farage personally and UKIP as a whole.
Some of us believe in democracy, where politicians are open towards and respect the rights of all sections of society. But then, some of use believe that all people should have equal rights – even queens dressed in frocks, with big moustaches, and dancing to the Village People.
PDF of the document can be found here: