Category Archives: Legal system

Sharia Rides Up The Agenda

Since 2011 I’ve been working with the outstanding crossbench peer Baroness Caroline Cox on her legislative initiative, the Mediation and Arbitration Services (Equality) Bill.

Sharia Council of BritainThis turgid title masks sensitive and combustible issues: The primary purpose of the Bill is to tackle gender-discrimination in the 85+ Sharia courts across the UK. The secondary purpose is to tackle the growth of a parallel legal system in the UK.

Two years ago I covered the background to this proposed legislation in a post about the Bill’s Second Reading debate in the House of Lords. Despite multiple testimonies and clear evidence of discrimination against women, and strong cross-party back-bench support, the government opposed the Bill on the head-in-the-sand grounds that adequate legislation is already in place to deal with the issue.

Memorably, this inflexibility earned the new and junior minister responsible, Lord Gardiner, a magisterial put-down from one of the country’s top lawyers: “(Lord Gardiner) has given an Olympian exegesis of the processes and laws and consultations that are available to deal with the intellectual problem,” Lord Alex Carlile QC thundered from the LibDem benches behind and above the minister. “However we are concerned here with real people and real cases.”

baroness cox giving the keswick lecture week 2 09We had sat with many real Muslim women and heard their real and distressing cases at the hands of Sharia courts. We greatly relished Lord Carlile’s broadside.

This was Parliament’s first ever debate about Sharia. It was an historic debate – but this still cut no ice with the government.

Since then we’ve continued to push the issue in Westminster and Whitehall. We held briefings for Peers and met with individual MPs; we set up an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on ‘Honour’ Based Abuse ; we met and listened to more Muslim women; we supported vital research by Muslim women’s group Aurat led by the inspirational Habiba Jaan; we worked with other women’s groups like IKWRO, Inspire and Karma Nirvana; and we met off-record with a junior government minister and on-record with a key senior one.

Theresa MayThe first sign that things were beginning to change came at the Conservative Party conference last September. For the first time Home Secretary Theresa May raised publicly the issue of Sharia law and women. “Across the country, there are concerns about the way Sharia law is being applied, the way women are told to live and the intolerant attitudes shown to people of different beliefs and ways of life,” she said. “We must not sleepwalk into separation, segregation and sectarianism.”

Encouraged that we may not be banging against a brick wall after all, we continued to work the corridors of Westminster and Baroness Cox grabbed every opportunity to speak out.

Then on Monday last week and in collaboration with the Bow Group, we were about to publish a report calling for a judge-led investigation into Sharia courts when Theresa May, now a Tory leadership contender thanks to David Cameron, announced the government’s new counter-extremism policy; unexpectedly this included an independent review of Sharia courts.

“There is evidence of women being “divorced” under Sharia law and left in penury, wives who are forced to return to abusive relationships because Sharia councils say a husband has a right to “chastise”, and Sharia councils giving the testimony of a woman only half the weight of the testimony of a man,” said  Mrs May. “We will commission an independent figure to complete an investigation into the application of Sharia law in England and Wales.”

This was fantastic as far as it went, but on Tuesday we published our report anyway. The Ministry of Justice has previously run scared and aborted an investigation into Sharia courts citing lack of co-operation by Islamic authorities; we reckoned a formal judge-led investigation with powers to subpoena witnesses is more likely to succeed.

Boris_Johnson

On Wednesday Boris Johnson, current favourite in the Tory leadership stakes, weighed in saying that Sharia law is “absolutely unacceptable” in the UK and should not be allowed to preside even over family disputes.

On Thursday journalist Leo McKinstry – who famously turned on his former boss, Labour’s anti-marriage deputy leader and Shadow Deputy Prime Minster Harriet Harman, and accused her of preaching a “dangerous gospel of feminist fascism” – praised “robust” Boris and spelled out his support on the issue. Harriet Harman on the other hand, like most feminists, remains culpably silent.

So the cat is out of the bag and the hare is running. There’s been a sea change and Sharia is open for proper political scrutiny at last.

Muslim women up and down the country will be grateful.

Minor Is Major

It’s a cast-iron undertaking written in just a couple of lines towards the end of the recent UKIP publication Policies for People, such that you might well miss it. It hasn’t been promoted like the party’s policies for leaving the EU or limiting immigration, and for many it is a minor matter. But it contains a major democratic principle:

“UKIP will amend the smoking ban to give pubs and clubs the choice to open smoking rooms properly ventilated and separated from non-smoking areas.”

scolding nannyThe 2007 blanket ban on smoking in all enclosed public places was a crass piece of infantilising nanny-state legislation and a denial of the right of freedom of association.

If law-abiding and adult citizens in their right minds and fully informed of the likely (medical) consequences choose voluntarily to come together to set up a peaceable smoking club, on what possible grounds can a supposedly mature democracy refuse them?

There are no grounds of course, except the instinctive desire of our masters – whenever they can get away with it – to close down our exasperating liberties, limit our frustrating choices and knock us into the shape they think is good for us.

The ban on smoking in public places where non-smokers are present, such as restaurants, offices and on public transport, is certainly to be welcomed. And there is a good case for the forthcoming ban on smoking in cars when children are passengers.

But the complete and total ban insisted on by our legislators in 2007 – and indeed the current contested proposal to ban smoking in city parks and outdoor areas – amply illustrate the bossy small-minded we-know-best attitude of the governing class that is the antithesis of an open and free participative democracy. They are managers not leaders; they act as political masters not public servants; they use coercion not persuasion; they are long on patronising paternalism and short on grass-roots common sense: and our freedoms of choice and association are suffering because it.

cigarUKIP’s track record is far from perfect, but consistently it shows that the party has the courage to do democracy, challenge established categories, confront the mainstream PC consensus and go where the LibLabCon elite refuses to go. Amending the smoking ban is a brilliant if unnoticed case in point.

So if all goes well on 7th May, next Christmas I’ll once again be free to enjoy a festive cigar alongside a pint and a game of pool in my favourite pub.

It’s yet another reason for joining and voting UKIP.

The Pink News Definition Of Democracy

I received a call from BBC Radio Northampton on Tuesday: with effect from midnight Civil Partnerships (CP) could be converted legally into Same Sex Marriages (SSM), they said, so would I discuss the issue on Stuart Linnell at Breakfast in the morning? They had heard me on BBC Radio London and wanted me to make my case to their Northamptonshire audience.

benjamincohenIn the event and on behalf of our campaign group Because Children Matter, I followed Ben Cohen of Pink News  in the show (here, commencing at 1 hr 6 mins 53 secs into the programme). I’ve met Ben before in LBC studios and he’s a friendly articulate guy although this time inevitably he stumbled and struggled to identify any advantage of same-sex marriages over civil partnerships.

“(You make SSM) sound just symbolic really,” said Stuart Linnell (at 1:14:53). The presenter was trying to help his faltering interviewee, but also unwittingly he exposed the fact that while SSM may be an important issue for Pink News gay activists and their useful idiots in the LibLabCon political class, in reality and on the ground it is an empty – if destructive – charade.

Indeed Ben was forced to concede that the number of gay couples who have entered into SSMs since they became legal on 29th March “is not that high” (at 1:13:20). Thank-you-but-noOrdinary same-sex couples have seen through the pretence and said “No thanks”. Significantly, the in-touch leadership of Ukip like Nigel Farage and gay MEP David Coburn have seen through it too, to Ukip’s electoral advantage.

When it was my turn (this slot can be heard in full here) I pointed out that while CPs are what it says on the tin, SSMs are a fake and a counterfeit: while conventional marriage commits the participants to a faithful ‘til death us do part’ which brings stability and huge benefits for the nurture of children, SSMs were designed by the government  to accommodate what Brendon O’Neill calls the “flightiness and flexibility more commonly associated with gay relationships”.

So adultery is no ground for divorce with SSMs. High-profile gay couple Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow play the field and openly advertise for sex partners – “preferably firemen, married men, muscle men and rugby players” – on Gaydar. And BBC-duping Eric Anderson reckons to have had sex with over a thousand people other than his marriage partner Grant Tyler Peterson. Faithful monogamy SSM is not.

rageMy approach clearly hit the target as Ben Cohen was incensed. He contacted the programme producer and demanded further airtime. Rebuffed, he took to his website and gave vent to his spleen. There he quoted me at length and I’m grateful for the further coverage of my views.

But he also let slip his guard and laid bare the underlying intolerance for which triumphalist gay leaders have become renowned. “Everyone understands the BBC, like all broadcasters, must ensure that news reporting is balanced and impartial,” he burbled, “however when it comes to reporting on gay rights issues the BBC seems to step well off the mark… As the law has already been enacted, this issue is no longer up for debate… So quite why BBC Northampton felt the need to allow Alan Craig on the air to regurgitate the same old anti-gay diatribe, and for that to go unchallenged is beyond me.”

No doubt Ben was disappointed at his own confused contribution to the programme, and in his subsequent anger at my arguments he illustrated an almost universal truth: gay activists, having stormed and plundered the ancient marriage stronghold, now want to lift the drawbridge and shut down all further discussion.

It’s the Pink News definition of democracy: “The issue is no longer up for debate”.

Muddassar’s Dirty Tricks At The Mega-Mosque Inquiry

MMNTdesign“You’re the bloke I’ve seen on the internet – you’re opposing the big Tablighi Jamaat mosque,” said the bearded man as I was about to climb the stairs at Custom House station adjacent to the massive ExCel Centre in Docklands. I was on my way to this month’s Public Inquiry (here) into plans to build a 9,000 capacity mosque, and my new companion – aged perhaps 40 – fell in beside me as we climbed the steps together.

“I’ve watched your videos and you’re right you know,” he continued. “I wish others would stand up against them like you do. I’m a Muslim and I know what they’re like. I don’t go near Tablighi Jamaat mosques.”

His name, he told me, is Ali. He came to the UK from Jamaica when he was nine and had accepted Islam. “Keep strong,” was his parting encouragement as he descended onto the station platform and I continued into ExCel. “I hope you are successful.”

MMNT logoIslamic opposition to the proposed massive mosque at West Ham – the architect claims it will be a big as Battersea Power Station (here) – is nothing new. I’ve lived less than two miles from the site for over 30 years and during our 8-year campaign of opposition (here) I’ve frequently worked with and cited prominent Muslims who oppose the project (eg here).

One of the most impressive Muslim opponents has been Tehmina Kazi, director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy (BMSD – here). Able, articulate and progressive, she had been a Project Officer at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (here) and, through BMSD, is now committed to promoting an Islam that is about ‘social inclusion, co-existence and harmony’ and does not discriminate against women.

On our behalf she testified strongly against the mosque in a formal submission to a previous Public Inquiry in February 2011 (here) on the grounds of Tablighi Jamaat’s isolationism and the restricted role of Tablighi women, both of which are “not conducive to social cohesion and inclusion”. She made a similar formal submission to the present Inquiry two weeks before it opened on 3rd June. It was powerful courageous stuff and right on the button; she was our star opposition witness.

Newham-Peoples-AlliancePublic Inquiries are run by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate and, 10 minutes after close of business on the day before this Inquiry opened, the Planning Inspector’s office in Bristol received an email from cowboy mosque-supporters Newham Peoples Alliance (here) informing him that our witness Tehmina Kazi had withdrawn from the Inquiry.

NPA is the dubious Muslim-led outfit that last year held demos outside Newham town hall in favour of the mega-mosque and then invited George Galloway to Newham to lead the campaign for the mega-mosque during the 2014 local elections (here), (here) and (here). Despite the usual Galloway flatulence, the initiative fizzled out.

NPA, which is driven now by internationally-connected Muddassar Ahmed, the founding CEO of Unitas Communications, by his Chief Operating Officer, Shiraz Ahmad, and by his Chief Media Officer, Zahid Amanullah (all here), had formal representation at the Inquiry, and indeed Shiraz Ahmad was one of NPA’s spokesmen.

Muddassar Ahmed(Unitas Communications claims to be a “specialist public relations and reputation management agency” with offices in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as well as London and Washington; it specialises in “the communications interface between the Islamic and Western worlds” (here) and is well-connected at senior government levels in those countries. For instance in the UK Muddassar is known to be close to fellow religionist Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Minister of State for Faith & Communities in Eric Pickles’ Department (here); ominously Pickles and his colleagues will be deciding the final fate of the mega-mosque later this year.)

While Tehmina’s withdrawal was a disappointment it was not a complete surprise. The previous Saturday afternoon she had called me, deeply distressed, from her holiday break abroad to tell me that Muddassar Ahmed was pressurising her (“intimidating” was her exact word) to withdraw. She said that Muddassar claimed he had obtained reassurances from Tablighi Jamaat that they would treat women better in future, and he promised Tehmina “they will continue to become more liberal under his influence.”

The reassurances, if made, are risible. Tablighi Jamaat, which has 80 million followers across 150 countries, has been promoting its ideologically-driven misogyny (here) and (here) to all its followers everywhere since its foundation in 1920s India.

But Tehmina was desperate. “Muddassar is not som1 u want as an enemy – he is 2 well connected in the community,” she texted me in messages that are still on my phone. “Really sorry Muddassar has put you under such pressure and intimidation,” I replied, to which she texted “I’m still shocked that hes supporting them as his wife N***** P***** (my asterisks) is a feminist.”

“It (Muddassar’s intervention) has ruined my break,” she texted further. “It’s always left to me to stick my head above the parapet – I wish others would do so 4 a change,” she added.

problem solvedI felt and feel sorry for Tehmina. Intimidation and interfering with witnesses is a dirty business; it not only indicates the depths to which Muddassar Ahmed will sink, it also illustrates the dark manoeuvring and coercion associated with Tablighi Jamaat and their mosque project. Six years ago my family and I received a death threat from another Tablighi Jamaat supporter linked to the project (here) so I know what mega-mosque intimidation is like.

Regrettably but understandably Tehmina has since denied she was intimidated and told the media that she has been “neither harried nor pressured but had accepted the reassurances she had been given about the place of women in the mega-mosque community” (here). The sneery knee-jerk Left such as IslamophobiaWatch (here), Liberal Conspiracy (here) and @NafeezAhmed were delighted of course. But fear has worked its effect, and her denial – subsequently repeated – is testimony to Muddassar Ahmed’s bullying control.

EricPicklesLord help us if the Planning Inspector recommends, and Eric Pickles decides, to allow the mega-mosque project go ahead. We can expect more, many more, such dirty tricks.

I can understand why my new friend Ali stays away from Tablighi Jamaat mosques.

“Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children?”

OurGreatLeaderIn politics as in life, there are people, events and opinions expressed that stop you in your tracks. David Cameron’s betrayal of basic conservative marriage-and-family principles at the October 2011 Tory party conference was one such. In words written for him, significantly, by Peter Tatchell (here) the prime minister claimed he now supported same-sex marriage ‘because I’m a Conservative’ (here).

I am not a Conservative Party supporter but I reached for the sick bucket. As a Christian Democrat I count myself a natural social conservative so my fury at Cameron’s slick perfidy knew no bounds. I was stung to write my most satisfying piece on the issue so far, ‘Confronting the Gaystapo’ (here), in which I compared Cameron in 2011 to Chamberlain in 1938.

Some thought the piece was OTT but I don’t. The man plans to redefine and wreck the precious gift of marriage that has been quietly handed down through the generations. Loyalty, faithfulness and marital stability will be jettisoned by his same-sex marriage Bill in order to accommodate gay marriage values (here), and so the secure home for sacrificial parenting and safe nurture of our offspring will be irreparably undermined. “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad,” is the ancient Greek proverb that aptly sums up the cultural suicide contained in the Bill. The foundational building-block of our society and civilisation is being demolished by a detached deluded government. “Professing to be wise, they became fools,” is how the New Testament explains it.

If the Bill becomes law expect the national budget for children’s, youth and police services to soar; the state will be forced to take over provision for an increasingly unstable and insecure younger generation on our streets, created by parents who, thanks to the prime minster and Baroness Stowell (here), will have been encouraged by Act of Parliament to pursue multiple sexual relationships and ‘open’ marriages.

TraditionalMr&MrsMaybe the in-your-face stupidity of the Bill might be brought home to Cameron if SamCam announced over breakfast one morning that she wants to be more modern and have an open marriage and that in line with his government’s new legislation she plans to have an affair with the milkman and/or her beautician. I wish it on no-one including David Cameron, but he would come face-to-face with the destructive effects of his Bill and her philandering on their three young children.

I was similarly stopped in my tracks two weeks ago when the House of Lords vote on their Second Reading of the Bill was announced. Pro-marriage supporters had been trounced in the House of Commons but, we had been informed by our campaign leaders, it would be different in the Lords where there is much more opposition to the same-sex marriage Bill. Well, they were wrong, utterly wrong. The vote in favour of the Bill was as overwhelming as the vote in the Commons. It was disturbing and distressing.

Layout 1Some Anglican Mainstream (here) colleagues and I decided that until then we had been culpably quiet. We had left the public argument to others and, in the face of overwhelming media and elitist bias, there had been almost no national discussion, no setting out the arguments against same-sex marriage. In particular the wellbeing of children, who are at the heart of marriage for most people, had been ignored while adult interests about ‘equality’ and religious conscience dominated the limited debate. It was late in the day but we decided we must start debate about children.

First we raised the required funds from friends and supporters and on 10th June took a half-page advert in The Times, entitled ‘Ten good reasons why the House of Lords should say No to the same-sex marriage Bill.’ The reasons majored primarily on the wellbeing of children. You can find them on our associated website, GayMarriageNoThanks.com (here), which we launched at the same time.

Layout 1Our next step is to take billboard space across London ahead of the Bill’s Report Stage in the House of Lords on 8th July. Again we plan to promote debate about the wellbeing and interests of children – typified by ‘Sophie’ in the posters – against the depredations of Cameron’s legislation. If you would like to contribute to the cost of the billboards and the fighting fund, go to the ‘Donate’ button on the website (here). Many thanks. HelenLovejoyfromTheSimpsons

 

Gay Marriage? Thank God For Stephen Timms

Stephen_TimmsI have no inside knowledge of course, but I always thought that our two Newham Labour MPs, Stephen Timms (East Ham) and Lyn Brown (West Ham) were good friends. Maybe they still are, but it was with some amusement that I read about their spat over same-sex marriage in the House of Commons.

In his speech during a debate on the same-sex marriage Bill in early February, Stephen claimed rightly that “Children are at the heart of marriage… Children are the reason why marriage has been so important…”

Lyn Brown's weddingLyn Brown interrupted him in full flow to remind him that he attended her marriage ceremony (in May 2008). “My right hon. Friend was at my wedding. I was not young when I got married (she was 48) and… it was highly unlikely that I was going to be able to procreate after all that time. Is he telling me that my marriage is less valid than anybody else’s?” (here)

It was a petty point. It is true that some married couples are not able to – or indeed choose not to – have children. It is true also that gay couples can have children even if only by adoption or artificial means.

But it is true too that there are exceptions to every rule. And these specific exceptions do not undermine the fact that real marriage is in essence and in principle about two people coming together, committing exclusively to each other, creating children and providing a stable caring home for the nurture and healthy upbringing of the next generation. It is because marriage is important for the welfare of children and for the future of society that an apparently secular state like ours must take an interest in the defining, ordering and regulation of marriage.

wheat fieldConversely if children and the future are not an essential part of marriage, then neither is the state. And if now marriage is simply to be about adults (gay or straight) loving and choosing each other as they wish, the state logically and inevitably must back off and allow any consenting adults of any gender and any number the right to marry for as long or short as they choose. For instance a wacky middle-aged couple I know went alone into a field of wheat one sunny summer’s day, frolicked naked and hidden amongst the ripening stalks and when they emerged from the field told friends that they are now ‘married’. This is a recipe for nuptial anarchy and instability of course, but on what basis do we tell them that they are not married?

Lyn Brown is my MP so I thought I’d try to persuade her change her mind ahead of tomorrow’s final Commons vote on same-sex marriage. The local paper, the Newham Recorder, published this letter from me last Wednesday:

Dear Editor, 

The final House of Commons vote on the Same-Sex Marriage Bill will take place later this month, before it then goes on to the House of Lords. Local MP Stephen Timms abstained in the previous vote and has said he will vote against the Bill next time. Can I appeal to my own MP, Lyn Brown, to follow suit? 

“Two people who love each other and are committed to each other should be allowed to get married whatever their gender. It’s an equality and human rights issue.” This is the main argument advanced in favour of same-sex marriage. 

But it is a selective and specious argument, and in reality the Bill does not create ‘equal marriage’ at all. Rather by changing the time-honoured definition of marriage from that between one man and one woman, it creates new inequalities and discrimination.

 It is notable for instance that the Bill will allow two lesbians to marry but not two elderly spinster sisters. Like the lesbians, the sisters may love each other, be committed to each other and live together for many years, but the legislation does not follow its own logic, allow them equally to get married. 

And if the Bill is about equality for minorities, why are the polygamous marriages of Muslims and Mormons excluded from it? And what about polyandrous marriages where there is one woman and two or more men? 

Further, there is an increasingly vocal minority demand for group marriage with multiple men and multiple women living in one so-called ‘family’. On what grounds are these minority ‘families’ excluded and discriminated against by the legislation? 

marriage based familySo the Bill is confused, illogical, irrational, unequal and creates new exclusions and discrimination against minorities. But worse, it completely ignores children. Same-sex marriage is about the interests of gay adults; children are not even mentioned in the legislation. Our children are our future, yet their rights and their welfare in marriages are completely blanked. 

Also, same-sex marriage will undermine normal faithful marriage by downgrading marital loyalty, as adultery will no longer be a valid reason for divorce. The right to play the field with even temporary and multiple sex partners is included by the government in this new definition of ‘marriage’. 

Finally, there is little demand for same-sex marriage in the gay community and there is no democratic mandate from the wider community. It was not included in any of the manifestos of the three major parties in parliament at the last election. 

Stephen Timms is showing courageous leadership by voting to reject the Bill. Lyn Brown, can we ask you to follow him and do likewise? 

Yours sincerely, etc 

The gay online newspaper Pink News ran the letter under the (deliberately?) untruthful headline claim that I want polygamous marriages to be included in the Bill (here).

I received a hostile email response from ‘AgayBgay’ informing me that “religion is a lie” and that there will be “punishment and justice” for gay rights violators. He also notified me ominously, “You have been warned.”

innocent childHe claimed further that “homosexual people are born homosexual” – which of course is the scientifically unproven and anecdotally questionable ‘born-gay’ argument. Matthew Parris (here – £) and Peter Tatchell (here) – both gays – would disagree. No gay gene has been discovered and rather than gayness being pre-determined at birth, it seems much more likely that childhood experiences and free-will play the major part.

MPs vote on the same-sex marriage Bill tomorrow. Will Lyn Brown vote against it alongside her Newham colleague?

Thank God for Stephen Timms.

Unequal Marriage 1

the real thingWhat’s in a word?

I’ve told the story before (here) about how, during negotiations with Policy Exchange – David Cameron’s favourite think tank – over the terms of a proposed same-sex marriage debate, they became distinctly frosty when I challenged their assertion that gay marriage should be called ‘equal marriage’ with an insistence that conventional marriage should therefore be called ‘real marriage’.

There was another entertaining incident last month while I stood at the gates of Downing Street. Half a dozen chairmen of local Conservative associations went to the door of No 10 in front of TV cameras to deliver a letter to the prime minister signed by 25 senior party colleagues that protested against the government’s same-sex marriage legislation (here). Peter Tatchell got wind of this, grabbed the opportunity for media publicity and rushed to the gates to bellow his usual hate speech about homophobes at full volume down the length of the historic and world-famous cul-de-sac.

Peter Tatchell outside Downing StreetHe also held up a poster: “End ban on same-sex marriage. Marriage Equality!” it proclaimed. With equivalent Alice-in-Wonderland logic and a wish to flap his wings and fly, he could have urged the government, “End pull of gravity. Bird Equality!”

The gay lobby and their useful idiots in the government and media have brilliantly manipulated the limited public debate about same-sex marriage by capturing the word ‘equality’. But by framing it as an equalities and human rights issue (eg here) they have messed with our language and wilfully disregarded the underlying realities.

male and femaleThe problem is that biology, nature or God (which I prefer, of course) has ensured that a same-sex couple can never undertake the act of marriage no matter how much they love each other or how long they live together. Two men (or two women) are physically unable to be naturally intimate and consummate their union through an activity that unites them and has the potential to reproduce and provide the next generation.

This is the essence of marriage and, further, in its purest ideal it is the private act that follows the public exchange of vows and signing of public documents; it is the intimate deed of physical and spiritual union that on the marriage night completes the coming together of two individuals and engages them in the mystical mathematics of procreation: 1+1 = 1 = 3+. It is consummation which transforms the marriage ceremony from a contract to a covenant.

I’m aware of course that the ideal is more honoured in the breach than the observance as today few couples refrain from sexual relations until the wedding night and many choose to co-habit rather than marry. But, for instance, financial honesty is another ideal that is vital to society’s wellbeing and is enshrined in the nation’s law. The fact that it is breached by everyone from corporate fat-cat tax fiddlers to single mums who falsely claim benefits and students who bunk the bus doesn’t deny the importance of the ideal. We have not (yet) attempted to redefine honesty and make it more inclusive such that fallen former MP Margaret Moran (here) could suddenly find herself re-included in the ranks of the righteous and her court sentence and criminal record scrubbed.

I am also aware that by choice or disability some married couples do not procreate. But this too doesn’t change the marriage ideal or its social value.

Of course two men or two women can have a legally-defined relationship which may or may not be called a civil partnership. A lesbian couple or two spinster sisters may love each other and live together all their adult lives; certainly where necessary the state ought to provide for them by statute. (The state currently and unfairly provides for the first but not the second (here).) But they can no more be married than they can defy gravity.

fruitful unionConsummation is so central to marriage that it too is enshrined in the nation’s law which decrees that marriage is voidable if it is not consummated (here).

This is the crux of the matter: the hard reality is that consummation physically cannot take place except between heterosexuals so the government has been forced to fudge and create a fundamental inequality in its ‘equal marriage’. Through the legislation and unlike heterosexual couples, same-sex couples will be exempted from any need to consummate their ‘marriage’.

So what’s in the word? They are married but not married. They are one but not one. They are the same but not the same. They are equivalent but certainly not equal.

It is Through The Looking-Glass stuff and a socially destructive confusion of the meaning of marriage by the government: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less” (here).

In the next post we will look at other inequalities and the discrimination against minorities that will be created if the Bill becomes law. Meanwhile I’m praying that politically the Dumpty in Downing Street has a great fall over his Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

Helping The Tory Haemorrhage

The growing row in the Tory party over gay marriage has been dubbed David Cameron’s Clause Four moment (here), but it isn’t. It’s his Munich moment, aka his Munich betrayal (here).

But there are differences between Neville Chamberlain and David Cameron. The former’s appeasement during that cataclysmic civilisational clash was sincere if misguided; the latter’s treachery on this different but deep civilisational issue is cynical and slickly perfidious. Chamberlain was forced into the Munich pact by Hitler’s aggression and a commendable fear of war; Cameron has freely chosen to aggressively crusade for same-sex marriage (SSM) when there is no need and miniscule demand. The pre-war premier’s democratic credentials and popular support were unquestionable; today’s has neither manifesto mandate nor the legitimacy derived from proper consultation (here).

It also could be Cameron’s Iraq moment. SSM will hopefully become a political lead weight round his neck that the Iraq war became to his model, hero and now public sunken wreck, Tony Blair.

Why? The good news is that Cameron’s gay marriage obsession is generating Tory grass-root rebellion and resignations (here) and recently colleagues and I have been doing our bit to help the haemorrhage of Tory membership. Given the increasing frenzy of shrill pro-SSM media comment, our aim has been simple: to slow down the Cameroon SSM juggernaut and create space for proper reasoned debate.

How can we do that? For the past couple of years I’ve been an active member of the Marriage, Sex and Culture group of Anglican Mainstream (AM), the information resource for the global Anglican Communion (here).

In July Policy Exchange, David Cameron’s favourite think-tank (here), published a pro-SSM report What’s In A Name? (here). It is half-baked, superficial, overtly political and, for ‘the UK’s leading think-tank’ (here), well below standard.

In August and on behalf of AM I challenged Policy Exchange to a fringe debate in front of the Tory faithful at the October Conservative party conference. We intended to demonstrate to the grassroots the weakness of the gay marriage argument. Policy Exchange obligingly picked up the gauntlet and, despite on/off twists and turns and ‘lies and duplicity’ – all recorded in detail on Archbishop Cranmer blog (here) and especially (here) – the debate finally took place (‘a result’, according to Cranmer) at Jury’s Inn in Birmingham. You can watch it (here).

(Incidentally there was a revealing moment during a pre-debate planning meeting. Policy Exchange wanted gay marriage to be called ‘equal marriage’ which implies of course that conventional marriage is unequal or unfair. I countered by insisting that conventional marriage should be termed ‘real marriage’ which implies rightly that SSM is fake and false. The atmosphere dropped from friendly to frosty – but they also dropped their demand.)

As part of AM preparations for the debate one of our group, R S Harris, produced a superb and extensive rebuttal of gay marriage, Is There A Case For Same-Sex Marriage?, now available as an e-book (here) or hard copy from TLB Direct, PO Box 3837, Swindon, SN6 9DS. The book is commended by luminaries like the former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern, was edited by Lynda Rose (here) and is the first of its kind – you should get a copy.

It argues from the evidence that:

• The concept of ‘equal marriage’ is fundamentally flawed as it presupposes a questionable notion of ‘equality’ and ignores the essential and defining components of conventional marriage.

• Gay marriage falsely treats parenting roles as interchangeable.

• Same-sex marriage wrongly assumes that the benefits of marriage are automatically transferable to same-sex couples who enter the same institution.

• There is no evidence that same-sex couples will benefit from the ‘commitment device’ invoked by marriage.

• Gay marriage introduces a disturbing, unproven and socially risky new norm into society, that children do not need both a mother and father for optimal development, when all the evidence points the other way.

• Same-sex parenting studies are fundamentally flawed in their sample size and methodology when measured against commonly accepted social science standards.

• If ‘love and commitment’ are the sole criterion for marriage then alarming consequences ensue such as the validation of incestuous relationships, as well as the recognition of polygamous and polyamorous relationships as has already begun in countries with SSM.

• Fear of causing offence makes society tread silently around disturbing medical data from both the UK and the US that, like smoking, homosexual activity is intrinsically unhealthy. For instance unlike vaginal lining, rectal lining is unable to withstand penetrative activity without medical damage. The active promotion of gay lifestyle in schools that SSM marriage inevitably entails is medically harmful for our children, especially boys, and costly to the health service.

I led a small team that laboriously searched the internet for the contact details of 350 chairmen of local Conservative associations up and down the country. Early last week we sent them each a copy of the book to provide them the evidence and to fuel more rebellion in the Tory ranks.

Yesterday the Sunday Telegraph ran an article about the opposition from Tory chairmen and the loss of party members to UKIP which opposes gay marriage. “David Cameron is barking mad,” said one (here).

The knives are out. The Tories are bleeding…

Tackling Sharia Misogyny

On Friday last week I sat in the cramped wooden Clerks’ Box in the House of Lords – alongside the comfortable padded red leather benches of the Peers and just three metres from the large glittering golden throne of the Monarch – and watched a bit of history being made.

For nearly two years I’ve been working in parliament with inspirational cross-bencher Baroness Caroline Cox to develop legislation that tackles the gender discrimination inherent in Sharia law at the eighty-five or so Sharia courts across the UK. I sat with a couple of colleagues in the Clerks’ Box in order to be available to her with advice and analysis during the debate.

It’s been an extraordinary journey as we’ve listened to the heart-breaking stories of many Muslim women. We also visited and were stunned by the rank misogyny of the Islamic Sharia Council in Leyton, east London (here) whose head, Shaykh Abu Sayeed, refused to shake Baroness Cox’s hand because she is a woman (he shook mine instead). We built a broad coalition of support that includes the National Secular Society (here), One Law For All (here) and the Christian Institute (here). And we worked with sympathetic Peers, learned lawyers and eagle-eyed parliamentary draftsmen to come up with a private members bill that would alleviate the discrimination and despair of woman at the hands of these religious courts.

One educated woman in her fifties living in south west England told us over a meal how the Imam at her local Sharia council insisted she must get permission from a male relative in order to get married. The only one available was a seven-year-old boy living in the Middle East so, after many protests and much fury at the humiliation, she was forced to send to the boy to request his agreement. She angrily waved at us his signed authorisation giving her permission to wed. 

Some of the other women’s stories we heard can be downloaded from (here).

The Bill itself is the dry-sounding Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill (here)  but the debate (here)  was anything but dry as Peer after Peer spoke strongly in favour. Only the Bishop of Manchester and Baroness Uddin expressed reservations.

Absurdly the government spokesman Lord Gardiner tried to defend the indefensible and justify the government’s total inaction (incisively summarised by Douglas Murray (here) as “there is nothing to see here, and please could everybody look away and move on”). But he was holed below the waterline by judicious interventions in rapid succession from Baroness Deech and Lords Carlile, Elton, Cormack and Swinfen. It was gripping stuff.

The history-making lay in the fact that, despite the rapid growth of Sharia – both Sharia courts and finance – in the UK, this was the first ever debate about this issue in either of the Houses of Parliament. There have been parliamentary questions which invariably elicited a bog-standard government stonewall, but no discussion or debate.

Peers saluted Baroness Cox for her courage in raising the combustible topic on behalf of oppressed women across the UK. Hear hear!

Gay Rights Trump All

Last Thursday found me in BBC London TV studios discussing the Cookham B&B case with Sam Dick, head of policy at Stonewall (here).

Earlier in the day Mrs Susanne Wilkinson, who runs the B&B at her home, had been fined £3,600 in damages ‘for hurt feelings’ experienced by a gay couple she had not allowed to share a bed. Her policy, based on Christian principles although regrettably unpublicised, is that only married couples can sleep together under her roof – in the past she has even refused to accommodate co-habiting members of her own family.

This court case is just the latest skirmish in the triumphant gay-rights march across society, crushing people’s consciences, trumping other liberties and, as eccentric gay atheist David Starkey says (here), imposing a new intolerant state-defined morality. 

It’s extraordinary that a democratic society which considers itself mature enough to protect the freedom of conscience of pacifists even in times of war, does not now allow citizens the freedom peacefully to run a small business at their home according to their own lights. The new state-defined morality is to be forced into every nook and cranny of our culture.

It’s the new liberal totalitarianism. They’ve done for smokers (here) and Christians. Maybe they’ll come for pacifists too.

Sam Dick seemed a decent bloke and we had a pleasant half-hour chatting before we went into the studio. But on-camera he reverted to the standard Stonewall myths, fables and nonsense.

First he claimed that gays should be free from discrimination “simply for the way they were born”. People are born gay? Really? He ought to read gay commentator Matthew Parris: “… male sexual orientation is less fixed than we suppose. It may alter. We gays fought that idiotic ‘Section 28’ on dishonest grounds. Homosexuality can, as the statute implied, be ‘promoted’. So can heterosexuality. It has always been, with much success.” (The Times, 21st April 2012).

Sam later equated Mrs Wilkinson to the landlords who used to put up notices, ‘No Blacks, No Jews, No Irish’. 

He was spouting silly Stonewall duplicity. The facts are that Mrs Wilkinson is a good love-thy-neighbour Christian who offers exactly the same warm hospitality to everyone – black and white, male and female, straight and gay.

I honour her. I hope she appeals the court fine on a point of principle and conscience. But unfortunately she’s fighting a losing battle as we continue our downward slide into an illiberal un-diverse intolerant state.

“Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants,” said Benjamin Franklin. Guess which way we’re heading…