UK culture secretary and equalities minister Maria Miller has tried to calm fears religious teachers will be sacked for expressing their views against marriage equality.
As the government prepares to publish the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill today (25 January) for England and Wales, Miller has emphasized teachers will not be ‘forced’ to promote same-sex couples marrying.
She said teachers will be able to say some religious groups, and their own faith believes, homosexuals should not be able to marry.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, Miller said: ‘Look, teachers are able to and entitled to express their views about same-sex marriage and there’s no requirement at all for them to promote it but, obviously, we wouldn’t expect teachers to be offensive or discriminate in any way about anybody.’
‘I think it’s important to say that in the context of talking about religious belief, perhaps in a church school that, there are different views on these matters, that there are views that marriage is between a man and a woman, particularly when it comes to, say, the Church of England, the Catholic church or the Church in Wales.
‘You think you always expect our teachers to teach in a balanced way and nothing’ changed in that respect, but, obviously, it’s important that children do know that there are different beliefs within different religious faiths.’
Miller’s comments come after the Education Secretary issued a statement teachers who hold traditional views marriage should not be punished for refusing to promote same-sex marriage at work.
After the second reading on 5 February, the bill will have to pass through committee and report stages in the House of Commons and a third reading.
It will then have to go through a similar process in the House of Lords before it becomes law.
A poll carried out by ICM for the Guardian in December 2012 showed 62% of British voters are in favor, with just 31% opposed.