The European Court of Human Right reached a decision this past week that while same-sex ‘marriage’ is not a human right, in European states where civil marriage for same-sex partners is admitted, churches that refuse to participate would be guilty of illegal discrimination.
The court reached the decision in the case of two women engaged in a civil partnership in France, who complained they would not be allowed to adopt a child as a couple. The court heard how one of the woman had her application refused to adopt her partner’s child. Valerie Gas and Nathalie Dubois had tried to establish marriage rights under anti-discrimination laws but the judges said there had been no discrimination.
“The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage,” judges in Strasbourg said. “With regard to married couples, the court considers that in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage, the applicants’ legal situation could not be said to be comparable to that of married couples.” The ruling has also said, however, that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, any church that refuses to marry gay couples will be guilty of discrimination.
Contacted by the Scottish Catholic Observer, Neil Addison, a specialist in discrimination law, said that if same-sex ‘marriage’ is legalized in the United Kingdom, then the partners will be entitled to the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage. “This means that if same-sex ‘marriage’ is legalised in the UK it will be illegal for the Government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises,” he said.
The Catholic bishops of Scotland, England and Wales, joined with leaders of other Christian confessions, have denounced government proposals to redefine marriage and allow same-sex couples. In addition, Muslim and Sikh leaders recently averred that the legalization of same-sex unions as marriage is an ‘unnecessary and unhelpful’ step.