The battle between the anti-gay groups and the equality supporters in the United Kingdom is heating up. Anti-gay groups have latched onto something said by an aide to Education Secretary Michael Gove claiming that teachers who do not teach about same-sex marriage will be punished. Meanwhile, Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities Maria Miller has noted the opposite.
The unnamed senior source in Gove’s office believes that teachers could lose their jobs if they refuse to teach about same-sex marriage, and that such a case would ultimately go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The aide stated “We have had legal advice, the problem is that there is this inherent uncertainty about such matters. These are all under the control of nine guys in Strasbourg, it is just fundamentally uncertain because Britain isn’t in control of this.”
The aide’s example was the case of Lillian Ladele. She was a civil registrar who refused to conduct same-sex civil partnerships and who lost her case before the European Court of Human Rights. It is unlikely that this case would be equivalent given that Ladele’s job was specifically to conduct marriages and civil partnerships.
Secretary Miller told BBC Radio 4 ahead of the introduction of the marriage equality bill:
“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.”
What makes the situation seem rather odd is that Britain has had civil partnerships for almost a full decade and so far, not a single teacher has been fired for refusing to teach about civil partnerships that has come to the press.