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UK MP calls for anti-terror laws be used to silence dissent on same-sex marriage

UK MP calls for anti-terror laws be used to silence dissent on same-sex marriage


Calls this week by a UK Government MP for anti-terrorism legislation to be used to silence believers in traditional marriage should serve as a warning to Australian parliamentarians about where this political agenda is heading overseas.

Mark Spencer, the Conservative MP for Sherwood recently said in a letter to a constituent that controversial new Extremism Disruption Orders should be used to silence Christian teachers who say marriage is a heterosexual union. (Note from Mode of Life: The article is in the comments section if link does not work).

Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton said Mr Spencer’s remarks were disturbing and mirrored recent actions of Australian same-sex marriage activists.

“Mr Spencer’s comments demonstrate the intolerance to dissent of the same-sex political agenda,” Mr Shelton said.

“Wanting to silence dissent is intolerant. Using Extremism Disruption Orders to silence dissent on marriage is itself extreme intolerance.

“I wonder how ethnic communities who will never waver on the definition of marriage would feel about anti-terrorism laws being used to silence their beliefs on marriage.

“Supporters of redefining marriage keep telling us that we should follow the lead of countries like the UK that have redefined marriage.

“The more Australians see of the consequences of redefining marriage overseas the less attractive the same-sex marriage agenda becomes.

“Recently the prominent same-sex marriage lobbyist Rodney Croome called for people to complain to the Tasmanian Human Rights Commissioner because the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart had dared to distribute a booklet outlining the church’s teachings on marriage in Catholic schools.

“This latest example of intolerance from the UK should cause Australian MPs considering a political debate on marriage next week to think twice about rushing into legislation that will take away freedoms from millions of Australians who will never accept a politicians’ definition of marriage,” Mr Shelton said.

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    New Extremism Disruption Orders should be applied on those who “teach” traditionalist Christian views about marriage in the classroom

    By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor – The Telegraph Newspaper

    New banning orders intended to clamp down on hate preachers and terrorist propagandists should be used against Christian teachers who teach children that gay marriage is “wrong”, a Tory MP has argued.

    Mark Spencer called for those who use their position in the classroom to teach traditionalist views on marriage to be subject to “Extremism Disruption Orders” (EDOs), tough new restrictions planned by David Cameron and Theresa May to curb radicalisation by jihadists.

    In a letter to a constituent, Mr Spencer, the MP for Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, insisted that Christian teachers were still “perfectly entitled” to express their views on same-sex marriage – but only “in some situations”.

    Christian campaigners said Mr Spencer’s remarks confirmed what they had previously warned: that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman would now be “branded extremists”.

    The National Secular Society, which supports same-sex marriage, said the proposed banning orders could be one of the biggest threats to freedom of expression ever seen in the UK.

    Ministers have signalled that the orders, expected to be a key plank of the Government planned new Counter-Extremism Bill, would be used not only curb the activities of radical Islamist clerics but those who promote other views deemed to go against “British values”.

    Ministers have defined British values in the past as including broad notions like democracy, tolerance and the rule of law.

    Mr Spencer was writing in response to an email from a constituent who was concerned about claims by the campaign group the Christian Institute that EDOs could be used against those with traditional beliefs.

    He wrote: “I believe that everybody in society has a right to free speech and to express their views without fear of persecution.

    “The EDOs will not serve to limit but rather to guarantee it: it is those who seek to stop other people expressing their beliefs who will be targeted.

    “Let me give you an example, one which lots of constituents have been writing about – talking about gay marriage in schools.”

    He went on to insist that Christians with traditional views on marriage are “perfectly entitled to express their views” but suggests it could constitute “hate speech” in some contexts.

    “The new legislation specifically targets hate speech, so teachers will still be free to express their understanding of the term ‘marriage’, and their moral opposition to its use in some situations without breaking the new laws.

    “The EDOs, in this case, would apply to a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong.”

    Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of the Christian Institute said: “I am genuinely shocked that we have an MP supporting the idea of teachers being branded extremists for teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.

    “This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been warning about.

    “The Government says we’ve got nothing to worry about from their new extremism laws, but here is one of its own MPs writing to a constituent saying EDOs would stop teachers teaching mainstream Christian beliefs.”

    He added: “Ten years ago the Conservatives opposed Tony Blair’s unpopular law against ‘inciting religious hatred’, saying it jeopardised free speech – yet here they are seeking to bring in an even worse law.

    “EDOs will be a gross infringement of free speech and undermine the very British values they claim to protect.”

    Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society said: “If EDOs really could be used to prevent teachers from talking about same-sex marriage, unless they are inciting violence, they are an even greater threat to freedom of expression than I had feared.

    “To suggest that EDOs guarantee freedom of expression [as Mark Spencer suggests] is not just inaccurate, it is the opposite of the truth; they are the largest threat to freedom of expression I have ever seen in Britain.

    “The spreading of hatred is far too vague a concept to be the basis of legal sanctions, and would be worryingly open to misuse, particularly by ideological opponents.”


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