UKIP’s opposition to equal marriage is based on half-truths and ignorance


9:50 am - January 14th 2013

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by Olly Neville

While some people oppose Equal Marriage on religious or traditionalist grounds, and others support it on being equal rights and the removing of a state enforced ban. UKIP walks the tricky tightrope of trying to do both, unfortunately the policy they have plumped for doesn’t really work.

The official policy is to oppose the current legislation, but support Equal marriage. UKIP believes that the ECHR will force Churches to perform marriages they do not want to, and so sees itself as defending religious freedoms by its opposition. However this throws up a few points.

Firstly, UKIP promises to remove the UK from the ECHR if they come to power. Where is the UKIP promise explaining that they would legalise Same sex marriages? Indeed UKIP have made their point so obscure and confusing that many social conservatives have happily joined UKIP believing them a party that just opposes equal marriage and would never legislate for it.

Secondly and more damning is the UKIP opposition to current legislation. The arguments for this all revolve around the ECHR. For them to force Churches to do so they would need to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights article 9 about protecting religious freedoms. Judging from historical cases the ECHR has never forced Churches in countries which allow Equal Marriage to perform the ceremonies and the only time it has ever arguably gone against religious freedoms is when it is supporting national Governments laws not when it expands or over turns them.

As the Coalition has explicitly said that Churches will not be forced to perform ceremonies all historical evidence goes to the ECHR backing up not attacking religious freedom in the UK on this issue.

As the counter-argument goes that people like Peter Tatchell are already pursuing court cases in the ECHR, I asked noted Equal marriage blogger Jae Kay for his take on this

This could refer to two cases:

i) the Equal Love campaign (spearheaded by Tatchell) set out in 2010 to challenge Government ban on marriage for same-sex couples and civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples. It is still ongoing. It has nothing to do with forcing the churches to marry anyone, and Tatchell is a loud supporter of religious freedom to decide for themselves which leads me to….

ii) Tatchell, has voiced his opinion that the 4th part of the Government’s proposed “Quadruple Lock” banning the Church of England from conducting same-sex marriage might be against the Church of England’s human rights. Some, including some of the usual suspects have spun this as Tatchell wanting to force the church to conduct same-sex marriages through the ECHR. What Tatchell is actually saying is that he believes the Church of England deserves to be treated like any other religion and given the right to choose, he isn’t talking about forcing anyone. He believes he is standing up for “religious liberty”. Sadly I think he just misunderstands the constitutional relationship between the Church of England and the UK Govt., the ban is something the Church of England itself can overturn when it wants to. But he means well.

Jae Kay has comprehensively set out why Churches will not be forced to perform ceremonies they do not want to, which all in all removes the UKIP claim that the ECHR will start trampling on Churches freedoms.

The final argument used by those in UKIP opposed to equal marriage is that no one wants it apart from a ‘vocal gay minority’ and that Civil Partnerships already give all the rights that Equal Marriage would provide. These two points can easily be dealt with, polls show that the majority of people support Equal Marriage while Civil Partnerships are notably different from equal marriages.

UKIP’s position is based on half truths, and is at best a misunderstanding, at worst a deliberate misrepresentation and at very worst a loud pitch to those who oppose Equal Marriage full stop.

Despite their Constitution saying so, there is nothing libertarian about UKIP and nothing remotely legitimate or libertarian about their claimed reasons for opposing Equal marriage.


Olly Neville was, until recently, chair of UKIP’s youth wing. This blog was cross-posted from Backbencher.

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Reader comments


I don’t believe UKIP’s line on religious freedom for a second. It’s their policy to ban Muslim women from wearing a niqab.

It’s probably based on prejudice and political opportunism rather than half-truths and ignorance. They want the Tory Taliban on side.

My hope is that given you’ve taken such a principled stand that your article wouldn’t have any half truths in it.

So hopefully you can clear the following up. You state that ” the only time it [ECHR] has ever arguably gone against religious freedoms is when it is supporting national Governments laws not when it expands or over turns them.”

Where does the case against the Johns, the B&B owners who have/had a policy of only letting out rooms to (heterosexual) married couples, fit in? It would seem to me that their being found guilty under various equality laws (and I believe taken to European level) would suggest that religious freedoms were inhibited here?

3.

It is not “religious freedom” to ban homosexual couples to stay at a B&B you won.

It’s tawdry, tedious, boneheaded prejudice.

“UKIP’s opposition to equal marriage is based on half-truths and ignorance”

At least it’s consistent with their other policies then.

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 James Reade

“Where does the case against the Johns, the B&B owners who have/had a policy of only letting out rooms to (heterosexual) married couples, fit in? It would seem to me that their being found guilty under various equality laws (and I believe taken to European level) would suggest that religious freedoms were inhibited here?”

I didn’t know that went to the ECHR. Got a link?

It’s great Olly Neville is speaking out. Another UKIP activist – a friend of mine, has also resigned from UKIP. UKIP is a mainstream political party who have a strong, charismatic leader and I wish them well in swallowing up votes from disaffected Tories. However, if UKIP wants to become a successful party in the future making the case for EU withdrawal (which I oppose), then they will have to try to reach out to a younger generation.

Thank you for stating Olly that UKIP is not libertarian. There seems to be this erroneous belief that they are somehow Britain’s libertarian party…which they aren’t.

Have a watch of the video below. I will probably be verbally slaughtered on this site because it’s Ron Paul, but no matter what spectrum of the political devide you come from, the man speaks sense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3PXANu7mUc

9. Robin Levett

@James Reade #3:

Where does the case against the Johns, the B&B owners who have/had a policy of only letting out rooms to (heterosexual) married couples, fit in? It would seem to me that their being found guilty under various equality laws (and I believe taken to European level) would suggest that religious freedoms were inhibited here?

It was Mr & Mrs Bull, not Mr & Mrs John; and they didn’t go to the ECHR with the omnibus Christian oppression case (I got this wrong a couple of months ago). It makes sense, because their argument was that civil partnership were not equivalent to marriage, and so their refusal to let rooms to unmarried persons wasn’t a breach of equalities legislation; whereas Lilian Ladele, who is riding that omnibus, argued that civil partnerships were equivalent to marriage, so that forcing her to conduct them was forcing her to marry people she had a religious objection to marrying.

Could you unpack the claim that “religious freedoms were inhibited” by preventing them from discriminating against civil partners by denying them the service that they were prepared to give to heterosexual married couples?

10. Robin Levett

@Renie Anjeh #9:

UKIP is a mainstream political party who have a strong, charismatic mendaciousleader

Fixed that for you; and, countering the obvious riposte, unusually so, even for a politician – while pulling the “speaking truth to power” schtick.

I support whatever measure would piss off the most people. The herd need to be annoyed.

12. So Much for Subtlety

The arguments for this all revolve around the ECHR. For them to force Churches to do so they would need to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights article 9 about protecting religious freedoms.

Which would not be unexpected. Most EU human rights law has exceptions to allow the government to do pretty much what they like – that is the point of the French legal tradition. But the Courts routinely ignore the bits they don’t like. We have to respect people’s right to a family life – unless we really want to do otherwise for a good reason like public order and well being. The Courts ignore that second part every day of the week.

Judging from historical cases the ECHR has never forced Churches in countries which allow Equal Marriage to perform the ceremonies and the only time it has ever arguably gone against religious freedoms is when it is supporting national Governments laws not when it expands or over turns them.

The blatant dishonesty of this is the refusal to recognise that this is an evolving issue. The EUHRC was set up by very old fashioned people. People who had no problems with Gays being thrown in prison for being Gay. The radicals have pushed the limits both within and without. So the question is not really what the law says or what past precedent is, but what the radicals will not rest until they get. They will aim to change public and legal opinion until society is very different. Then the letter of the law will be irrelevant.

And you can see it works. Can anyone here give me a single credible reason why Churches should not be forced to marry Gay people? Anyone?

That is what counts – the incredible and growing intolerance on the Left for anyone with a traditional set of values. Unless they are Muslims I suppose.

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 SMFS

“Can anyone here give me a single credible reason why Churches should not be forced to marry Gay people? Anyone?”

Certainly. If the marriage isn’t legally binding and brings no tangible benefits (e.g. a group using marriages as a front to grant access to a whites-only club or something), then it essentially comes down to the priest saying “As far as I’m concerned, you’re married”. That would be a ridiculous thing to litigate against. If you did, you’ve have priests being snuck into people’s homes at dead of night to marry them in the sight of God, and being punished if caught. No ta.

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 11 Stavros

“I support whatever measure would piss off the most people.”

Never thought I’d hear a worse policy than “let’s try to please everyone”, but you’ve somehow managed to concoct one.

15. Old Holborn

There’s FAR TOO MUCH homosexuality in the world and it shouldn’t be encouraged by recognising gay couples as the same as hetero couples.

16. Chaise Guevara

Old Holburn is refreshingly old-school. I look forward to being lectured on how black people are all right “in their place” and how Indians are hard-working but you wouldn’t want one marrying your daughter.


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