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Labour hosts faith group summit to support gay marriage

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper is calling for marriage equality legislation to happen this year
Yvette Cooper is calling for the marriage equality legislation to happen as soon as possible.

British political party Labour chaired a meeting where representatives of Quakers, Unitarians and Jewish groups debated their views on gay marriage yesterday (4 July).

The left-leaning party said their backing shows a range of views among faith groups and does not condemn opposition.

The meeting follows the coalition government closing the 12-week consultation on gay marriage on 14 June, with the legislation expected for 2015. 

However, the government have offered a free vote to MPs on the issue, meaning they will not be forced to vote on the party line. 

Chairperson of the meeting, Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said there are ‘serious contradictions’ in the government’s position on the issue.

She is calling for legalisation to be made this year, and all religious organisations in favor should be allowed to conduct gay marriages on their premises.

Senior Quaker representative Paul Parker told BBC Radio 4 show Today: 'We really do not acknowledge there is a distinction between two types of couples. 

'We want everyone to have the same experience, both legally and on the day.'

Parker added: 'We are calling for the law to catch up, really with something we already recognise.'

Members of the Church of England who attended the meeting included Lord Harries, former Bishop of Oxford and Dr Jeffrey John, a high profile gay figure in the church.

However Canon Chris Sugden, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, told the radio show he believed same-sex marriage was a 'step too far' and not compatible with Christian teachings. 

He said: 'The issue is whether same-sex relationships, in the Christian understanding, are on the same level as heterosexual marriage. 

'And it is very clear from the Christian scriptures that we are committed to that they are not.'

Muslim and Sikh leaders in the UK have opposed gay marriage, with the Muslim Council of Britain saying 'redefining' marriage is 'unneccesary and unhelpful.' 

Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Pope's representative in Britain, has also urged all Christians, Jews and Muslims to unite against gay marriage. 

However in a recent poll by Stonewall revealed 71 per cent of Britons support gay marriage.

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