10 Oct 2011

Is Britain divided over the issue of gay marriage?

As Glasgow’s Catholic archbishop questions plans in Scotland and the UK to allow full marriage rights to same-sex couples, Channel 4 News debates the issues surrounding gay marriage.

The Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti has written to every parish urging all Catholics to oppose a change in the law. He claimed letting gay couples marry would damage social cohesion.

He said: “It will act to create larger divisions in society and could lead in the future… to gross allegations of discrimination.”

The Archbishop’s call follows the start of the Scottish government’s consultation on a law change. Similar measures are being planned in England and Wales.

Is Britain divided over the issue of gay marriage?

During the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, David Cameron pledged to recognise marriage in the tax system – including gay marriage. “I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative,” he said. “I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative,” he said.

But Austen Ivereigh of Catholic Voices told Channel 4 News this issue is “not about gay rights”.

He said: “At the heart of the defence of marriage is the biological union of man and woman, issuing forth children who are then brought up by those parents.

“This is a uniquely beneficial institution for children and for the state to declare it not to be so I think will have a damaging effect to children and young people, sending the wrong message over time.”

Author and journalist Douglas Murray responded: “How on earth can it be said by anyone, with a straight face, that gay marriage would harm children?

“The thing that most harms children in their uprbringing is if one of their parents leaves, if someone commits adultery… that’s the sort of thing that splits up families.

“Two grown men or grown women who decide to enter the union of marriage; this is not what’s destructive, this is helping marriage.

“At a time when couples who commit to marriage is decreasing, here is a group who actually say we want to be involved in marriage.”