Christian group’s free speech denied over gay marriage conference ban, Government signals
Traditionalist Christians have a right to ‘British liberties of freedom of speech and expression’, says Government department as campaign group receives apology
By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
Christians with traditionalist views must have their right to free speech upheld, ministers have insisted after one group opposed to gay marriage was banned from using a Government-owned venue because of its views.
Christian Concern, which campaigned against the legalisation of same-sex marriage, has received a public apology after it was barred from staging a debate on marriage at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre opposite the Houses of Parliament.
As part of an out-of-court settlement to end almost three years of legal wrangling, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary’s department has agreed a public statement to “reaffirm” what it called “long-standing British liberties” including freedom of religion and free speech.
It represents a victory for the group, which said it had suffered discrimination because it voiced traditional views on marriage.
But it comes as an embarrassment for Mr Pickles who has been an outspoken defender of Britain’s “Christian” heritage and freedom of religion and recently changed the law to enable councils to begin their meetings with prayers.