A huge number of Imams and Muslim community figures have written a letter published in the right-wing Sunday Telegraph today expressing ‘serious misgivings’ about the Gay Marriage Bill. Here is the letter in full:
SIR – We have serious misgivings about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which seeks to legalise gay marriage.
As imams and Muslim leaders we have a responsibility to fulfil our sacred trust to God and present our view on these proposals on behalf of the Muslim communities we serve.
Marriage is a sacred contract between a man and a woman that cannot be redefined. We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is the cornerstone of family life and the only institution within which to raise children.
We are concerned that this radical change to the institution of marriage will impact on what is taught in schools. Muslim teachers will be forced into the contradictory position of holding private beliefs, while teaching a new legal definition of marriage. Muslim parents will be robbed of their right to raise their children according to their beliefs, as gay relationships are taught as something normal to their primary-aged children.
We support the numerous calls from other faith leaders and communities who have stood firmly against gay marriage and instead support marriage as it should be, between a man and a woman.
The letter should not come as any great surprise. Most religious groups tend to be very conservative in their outlook. In a democratic society, they should have every right to air their religious views. That does not mean that their views should not be scrutinised though.
The signatories say:
“Muslim teachers will be forced into the contradictory position of holding private beliefs, while teaching a new legal definition of marriage. Muslim parents will be robbed of their right to raise their children according to their beliefs, as gay relationships are taught as something normal to their primary-aged children.”
I am not convinced that this is actually true. Muslim teachers can still preach that they believe that gay sex is sinful as is gay marriage – if they wish to do so. Even though abortion and sex before marriage between adults is lawful, those whose religious beliefs instruct them otherwise can still entertain those beliefs and teach them to their children in the privacy of their own homes.
I am pretty sure that many of the very same religious figures would also like to deny the right of a woman to have an abortion, for unmarried adults to have any type of physical relationship, for authors to publish books that they deem blasphemous or ‘deviant’, for movie makers to include scenes which they regard as being ‘lewd’ or ‘unacceptable’, the right of biology teachers to teach kids about evolution etc.
In short, they would prefer to impose on the rest of us a far more restrictive society. I am not at all convinced that it would lead to a better society. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Karl Popper famously wrote about the virtues of an ‘Open Society’ and the differences with other types of societies. His arguments are still every bit as valid today.