Wednesday, 7 March 2012

UKIP's position on gay marriage

UKIP's NEC has announced the party's position on same-sex marriage.

This is, of course, an emotive subject and the position won't please everyone but the reasoning behind it is logical and consistent which is the most anyone could expect in the circumstances.

UKIP London chairman, David Coburn, says that UKIP supports same-sex civil partnerships but doesn't support same-sex marriage.  The party's position is that civil partnerships are a legal matter and marriage is a religious matter and that government has no business telling the church what does and doesn't constitute marriage.

I agree to a certain extent - it certainly isn't the business of the state to interfere in religious matters and if same-sex relationships are a sin for a particular religion then they shouldn't be forced to conduct same-sex marriages.  However, marriage isn't solely a religious matter - I didn't get married in a church because we're not religious in the slightest but it's still a marriage.

There's no reason why same-sex couples shouldn't have civil marriages if they want to go further than a civil partnership and conversely, no reason why heterosexual couples shouldn't be allowed to have civil partnerships if they don't want to go as far as marriage (something that heterosexual couples aren't allowed to do).

I don't agree that the church (any church) should be forced to marry a same-sex couple if it is against their religion - a vicar can refuse to marry a heterosexual couple if they're the "wrong" denomination, if they aren't from the parish, if they're not religious enough or if they just don't want to so why shouldn't they have the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples because they consider it a sin?

This really is a matter of conscience and not something for politicians to decide.  We can't force a muslim woman to remove her face covering even though it's not a religious requirement because it's a breach of her rights but we can force a vicar to marry a same-sex couple even though he or she thinks it's a sin?  I'm sorry but that's just not right.  Let vicars and other religious leaders decide if they want to condone and preside over same-sex marriages as a matter of conscience, not be forced to do so under threat of prosecution.

No doubt UKIP's announcement will be seized upon by the holier than thou, PC brigade and misrepresented as homophobia but that's the price you pay for taking a principled stand.