UKIP is wrong on Equal Marriage

Olly Neville January 13, 2013 9
UKIP is wrong on Equal Marriage

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. Fundamentally UKIP is wrong on Equal Marriage.

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 damningly 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.

To counter this the 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 libertarian or even remotely legitimate about their claimed reasons for opposing Equal marriage.

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  • Olly, I have to say that I agree with quite a lot of your views, I agree with you so much more than I disagree with you! Aside from your views on bestiality of course; I personally consider that disgusting abuse at the same level of paedophilic offenses, which is clearly imoral and wrong and should be punished and prevented!

    Specifically with regard to the subject of gay marriage, I agree with you in saying that I would like to see it legalised. As a gay man myself, I do not consider myself to be any less of a human being than a straight person.

    I believe love between a homosexual couple is just as precious and beautiful as love between a hetrosexual couple! This means that I believe in marriage equality, in a legal sense we have that through civil partnerships. However, further steps are needed, I don’t believe any church,synagogue etc can claim the word marriage as it’s own and decide on who can and can’t use this label!

    The Government decide the law, since marriage is a legally binding union, it should be the Government that decides who can and can’t marry! As a society that believe’s in equal right, it seems right and proper that marriage should be “a legally binding union between 2 consenting adults, of a sound mental state (not been sectioned/no power of attorney etc) above the age of 16/18.”

    So far you might think I agree with you but my agreement is merely ideological! I support UKIP’s policy (for now at least) because the Government simply do not have the power to prevent the ECHR making a ruling if it came to it!

    You rightly point out that the proposed law would be a technical breach of Article 9 of the ECHR. If a gay couple wanted to ask the CofE to marry them, the CofE would point out it is against UK law and turn them away! If this couple wanted to, they could take the case to the ECHR and they would win! The Government would be forced to change the law. There are people out there who are incredibly anti-religion and would relish the prospect of sabotage. It’s my view that these sorts of intolerant people are a minority but it only takes two people to act in protest to make this situation occur. Are you talling me for definite that this is not going to happen? I’m not telling you that it definetly will happen but I aknowledge the strong possibility!

    You say that the ECHR have never ruled against a Government before, are you kidding me? Votes for Prisoners ring any bells? However, you do rightly point out that UKIP say that they intend to leave the ECHR anyway, which by implication if UKIP came to power there would not be this legal issue! Agreed! You say UKIP should make clear what their position would be on gay marriage once we have left the ECHR. I agree, UKIP should clarify their position on this. I believe it would prove you wrong when you say that UKIP are not Libertarian!

    With regard to yourself and your removal from the chaimanship. I’m afraid to say I have to agree with the decision! I don’t want to because I agree with you on more things than I disagree with but you did make some pretty big mistakes! It is not appropriate for a party spokeman to go on live national radio and disagree with party policy and endorse a policy of another party. In politics there is something called the principle of “Collective Responsibility”, you might want to look that one up!

    Am I saying you should of lied and not said what you think? No, of course not but there are different ways of phrasing things and it seems to me that you didn’t bother to think before you opened your mouth!

    What could you have said?
    “I believe in marriage equality, I want gay marriage to happen but and this is a big but, not at the expense of anyone elses rights and freedoms. By that I mean religous freedoms! As a libertarian I believe it is quite wrong to take rights from one group to enhance the rights of another group because I don’t believe in grouping people, full stop. People are people! I’d like to take the opourtunity to encourage the Culture Secretary and indeed David Cameron to contact the ECHR to get a 100% assurance that there is no hypothetical situation in which they would act to make a place of worship perform a ceremony they don’t believe in under this new law. I would be very interested to hear their answer! I believe in marriage equality but I also believe in religious freedom. I want to be able to have both, not a choice between the two. While ever we are under the ECHR this question will remain.”

    That is something like what I would have wanted to hear, not an endorsement of an ill tought out Government policy that changed several times in the space of a week!

    Whilst you were in your position as Chairman of YI, I think it was quite wrong of you to publicly contradict party policy on live radio, I also think it was wrong of you to make certain tweets on Twitter. What could you have done instead? You should have used your position to say these things within the party, that’s how you make a party change. Not by shouting your mouth off in public media and yes Twitter is public media, the courts seem to think it is anyway!

    I was disapointed by your reaction to your dismisal from the Chairmanship and I’m afraid to say this has lost you my respect! You behaved in just about the most indignified way I could imagine! At least you didn’t quite cry on Channel 4 News, that would have been worse!

    You seem to be pathelogiclly incapable of seeing fault in your actions and owning accepting it! It looks like someone has got some growing up to do! I mean at best, it smells like sour grapes for you to start attacking UKIP in this way! I agree with what you said on Channel 4 about you being naive! UKIP is not perfect, no party is perfect, there never has been a perfect political party and there never will be. That’s what we call life my friend!

    I thought that we both agreed that UKIP was the best party, with the best vision. If you want to be an idealist then fine, I hope you enjoy staying inside your own head but some of us actually want to see a bit of progress and movement in the right direction. Some of us want to help make that happen, not hold it back by expressing bitterness! So please grow up and have some self respect!

    I hope this comment has made you think a bit, if not then you’ve got a difficult road ahead of you in life!

  • Tim

    The committment between same sex couples may well be the same regardless of the wording but that wording is damn important to those who are progressive, forward thinking and want a fair and equal democracy in a modern and vibrant society. Civil ceremony does not hold the same loving and committed connotations as marriage and by very definition sounds second class.

    The mantra of UKIP that religious institutions might be forced under the ECHR to perform same sex marriage is scaremongering at best. While the ECHR is far from favourable and many of its actions leave a lot to be desired, they have already made clear the prosecution of religious organisations over same sex marriage is a non starter. I happen to believe them on this occassion, not least because of the ructions it would cause throughout Europe with the religious establishment. The idea of UKIP rejecting same sex marriage because it might be forced on those organisations is naive at best and at worst is a cynical attempt to avoid the issue altogether and kick it into the long grass with little intention to introduce same sex marriage anyway.

    With regard to both Olly Neville and Richard Lowe, the lowest common denominator is their agreement with same sex marriage. In Olly’s case it seems perfectly acceptable to talk about necrophilia and beastiality but not gay marriage. Interestingly, in Lowe’s case he had already broken five planks of UKIP policy without any questions asked but as soon as he made clear he agreed with SSM, all hell was let loose. In a true libertarian party, dissenting voices would be accepted and opposing views appreciated no matter the rank or position held within the party.

    UKIP libertarian? Not while they are opportunist in chasimg votes, welcoming those who think the party is an acceptable alternative to the BNP.

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  • Aaron Darkwood

    1. Marriage is the union of two people and is a state official legal standing. The documents are held by County hall, Registrations are in charge of all documents, and religion has no place in it.
    2. Gay people in Civil Partnerships already call themselves married, to each other, to other people, on forms and documents, so why not just lose the term and stick with married.
    3. Faiths can opt in or opt out of this, it has no bearing. Make it legally acceptable for two people to be married, and let the faiths worry about the rest. It is NOT in the equation.
    4. 73% of people support equal marriage in the UK, so why would any party want to go against such overwhelming odds.
    5. The only party against it is the BNP; is that really a camp we want to be allied with on anything?
    6. UKIP members want equal marriage. It appears that only a handful of people at the top are blinkered with a view that this is a good choice. That and a selection of persons in a pub that Nigel takes policy advice from.

    This is a lot of noise about nothing. Just sign off on equal marriage and be done with it. Its cost UKIP a lot of bad press, and we need to move on from this.

  • Netcontributor

    So what are you going to now. Is there another political party that will allow you the unfettered freedom you want, without the compromise you so rejected. – or are you set to be a one man band.(or maybe a 2 man band with Richard)

  • Sam D

    I agree with all the point your making but you have to look at this strategically, if they don’t say if they oppose or support equal marriages it means they can attract voters from both side. While I respect you Olly for your principles and your determination to stick to them to survive in first past the post system you have to be adaptable and not put all your cards on the table. Be patient once we leave the EU I believe this debate will be set free from the electioneering.

  • Alasdair

    ^Er, what? That’s a bit of a non sequitur, isn’t it? Don’t see anything about necrophilia in this article… just an entirely reasonable argument pointing out that UKIP’s concerns over gay marriage are wholly groundless, and how hypocritical it is for a supposedly libertarian party to seek to interfere in people’s personal lives by forbidding them from getting married.

  • James T

    There is a difference between wanting the government off your back and being an anarchist crackpot like you Olly, I actually cannot believe you support necrophila.