Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 18 April 2015

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

'I cannot condone the 'gay' lifestyle - unjust the state could punish those with principles or religious beliefs'

Civil partnerships: 'Difficulty arises when the state seeks to punish those for practising sincerely held principles or religious beliefs'
Civil partnerships: 'Difficulty arises when the state seeks to punish those for practising sincerely held principles or religious beliefs'

As a democratic and libertarian party, UKIP believes the state should play only a minimal role in the lives of its people. Marriage for instance, happily existed for millennia without any interference from the state whatsoever.

While I personally cannot condone the 'gay' lifestyle which I believe is damaging to the individuals involved I recognise that not all people have the same values and beliefs as me.

Civil partnerships are a recent development. UKIP recognises that they provide a way of allowing  people to formally register relationship commitments and have a legal means of dealing with the problems that had been identified in the past like tax arrangements and the distribution of joint property assets. The civil partnership  arrangement allows all people the same fundamental rights as married heterosexual couples.

A difficulty arises however when the state seeks to punish those for practising sincerely held principles or religious beliefs. I believe that it is profoundly unjust that Christian business people like B&B operators or printers should be subjected to the threat of jail for simply practicing what they believe or council staff and church ministers who believe that marriage is a sacred Christian rite between a man and a women.

That’s what the Progressive Unionist Party effectively called for at the weekend, when it passed a motion to introduce homosexual marriage in both Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Admittedly, David Cameron promises those who object to homosexual marriage – most notably churches – in England and Wales will be protected from it. But like any of ‘Cast Iron Dave’s’ promises, they’re not worth the paper they’re written on in England, Wales or anywhere else.  

For so long as the UK remains subservient to the European Court of Human Rights, it is inevitable the law will be challenged. It is similarly inevitable it will be deemed to be ‘unfair’ by a panel of judges in Strasbourg, which interferes in everything yet is accountable for nothing.

Consequently, there is a real danger that ministers, church officers, registrars and wedding venue owners could be jailed or heavily fined if they fail to agree with David Cameron or Billy Hutchinson.

That’s wrong; no person or group can be allowed to force their ideas on society or compromise hard won personal freedoms. Therefore, while I understand civil partnerships, I’m opposed to state-enforced homosexual marriage. The motion passed at the weekend’s PUP conference is profoundly illiberal, even if it is regretfully consistent with the PUP’s apparent desire to become the foot soldiers of the European Union and a ruling, metropolitan, socialist elite. 


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