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Sikh Temples In England And Wales Advised To Halt Civil Marriages

Marriage Equality (Rings)

Marriage Equality (Rings)

Section 1 of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act of 2013 makes it clear that no church shall be forced to perform a marriage that they disagree with according to their scripture. That churches must opt-in to same-sex marriages rather than automatically be allowed to perform them as well. Apparently that, and the fact that the bill does not go into effect for another whole year, is not enough for Lord Singh, the director of the Network of Sikh Organizations.

The NSO has advised its members to stop performing or solemnizing civil marriages so that they cannot be coerced into performing same-sex marriages. According to Harmander Singh, the principle adviser to Sikhs in England, “We are concerned that the quadruple lock isn’t going to be worth the paper it is written on. In the longer term, as soon as there is an issue and it goes to the European Court of Human Rights, no one can be sure, because the quadruple lock means nothing under subsidiarity.”

The fear is that the case could be taken to the Human Rights courts of the European Union.

Places of worship in England commonly register with concils as venues to conduct weddings and to have them solemnized. The deregistering of a place of worship would lead to nothing much more than a little inconvenience with the wedded couple having to get married at the town hall and then have their wedding blessed with a church service, if they so choose. Currently, such a situation exists throughout much of Europe, and especially in France. The United Kingdom and their former colonies are the exception in that they combine the civil and religious marriage ceremonies.

Sing also stated that “We have no authority, neither has the Government, to change our scriptures. We are bound by our religious teachings and we have been put in a difficult situation. Civil marriage is, with respect, a paper exercise.”

The advice is not binding, but many Sikh temples will take it seriously.

It actually creates a situation where one might wonder if this would be for the best. Perhaps getting religion out of the marriage business except as a blessing would benefit religious liberty in the long run.

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