Julian Brazier seeks protection for Christian teachers

Canterbury MP Julian Brazier entered the gay marriage debate in the Commons yesterday to seek safeguards for teachers.

Speaking in favour of a series of amendments, Mr Brazier intervened to question what would happen under the same sex marriage laws if a teacher expressed a Christian view of marriage to students.

Mr Brazier raised concerns that no safeguard exists for Christian teachers who teach a Christian view of marriage and could face being sued or prosecuted under equalities legislation.

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Hansard: 20 May 2013

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Mr Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for making such a powerful speech. In the last few weeks, on a very different subject—a deportation case—we have seen another example of the courts making it clear that neither the views expressed by Ministers nor a resolution of the House are enough to persuade them, when they have taken a fixed view on a human rights point. Only legislation can pin this down.

Mr Leigh: Absolutely. The courts made that quite clear recently

(later in the same debate)

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Gerald Howarth: There are people out there who will be intimidated by this legislation. I have to say to my hon. Friend the Minister that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr Brazier), who made the point that, at the end of the day, his assurances, and those of his Front-Bench colleagues, are utterly worthless. We have ceded the power of the House of Commons not to the courts of this land, but to the European Court of Human Rights. That Court will be the ultimate determinant of what is to prevail, the right of the teacher expressing a profoundly religious view or the public equality duty.

(later in the same debate)

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(Minister) Hugh Robertson: However, it is clear from the number of hon. Members who have signed new clause 1 that many remain concerned about the level of protection for teachers. Although I am confident that the existing protections are sound, I am aware of concerns raised by the Church of England and mentioned by many hon. Members. With that in mind, I commit to the House that we will take the issue away and discuss it further with religious groups with whom we have been engaging throughout this process. We have been in close contact with all of them, and will consider all available means—including an amendment if necessary—to put the issue beyond any doubt in the other place.