Religious leaders speak out on same-sex marriage
Gibraltar’s Christian denominations and the Jewish community have spoken out against same sex marriage, arguing that proposals to amend the law are driven by political correctness that threatens to “destroy the very fabric” of Gibraltarian society.
The message was set out in a statement issued jointly by the Roman Catholic Church in Gibraltar, the Church of England in Gibraltar, the Church of Scotland in Gibraltar, the Gibraltar Methodist Church and the Jewish Community in Gibraltar.
“We understand that society is changing, and that these changes are trying to find their way into the society in Gibraltar,” the statement said.
“We do however believe that some things are immutable pillars, which support our society and way of life.”
“Marriage is one of those pillars.”
The statement cites the Oxford Dictionary definition of marriage as the ‘condition of man and woman, legally united for the purpose of living together and usually procreating lawful offspring’.
It adds that in the Western world, this has long been the traditional concept of marriage.
“This definition of marriage has served us well for many years and we see no reason for it to change in any way,” the statement said.
“We are not standing in judgement on those who do not adhere to a heterosexual lifestyle but believe that their rights are fully protected, and provided for, within the current ‘Civil Partnerships Act’.”
“We believe that the current attempt to amend the law is nothing less than a coercive desire to pursue a programme of ‘political correctness’, which has the ability to destroy the very fabric of the society which we hold dear.”
The Evangelical Alliance of Gibraltar also added its voice and said the proposal for same-sex marriage was “…nothing less than an attempt to re-define the nature of our society.”
In a statement, the Alliance said the difference between a ‘union’ and a ‘marriage’ was the “dilemma” at the heart of this debate, but that this was not being addressed.
It also cautioned on the need to differentiate between what it described as “a civil right and a desire”.
“To ask for equality is in fact a contradiction in terms, as no legislation can make a same sex union equal to a heterosexual union, any more than legislating for longer hours of sunshine will make the sun stand still,” the Alliance said.
“We believe that the current ‘Civil Partnerships Act’ already grants same sex couples the same rights and privileges as marriage grants to heterosexual couples.”
“Any attempt to change the nature and meaning of the word ‘marriage’ is nothing less than a desire to insert considerations of equality where they do not belong, in order to please a vociferous and well-organised minority, at the risk of damaging the fabric of our society.”
“This debate calls for careful thought, not slogans. We call upon all citizens to think for themselves and resist the easy temptation of tinkering with an institution, marriage, that has served the Western world so well.”
“We ask our elected representatives to give this major constitutional issue the respect, care and attention that it requires.”
The Equality Rights Group reacted to the statements from the religious institutions and said the LGBT community and its supporters would not be moved in their determination to do away with “centuries of religious political correctness where to treat homosexuals as third class citizens was the order of the day.”
“The breath of freedom as Gibraltarians is on our lips,” said the group’s chairman, Felix Alvarez.
“LGBT people will not be coerced, nor indeed will we be intimidated by the old custom of past influence.”
“We are building a new society, a new Gibraltar, and those who oppose others’ rights in situations where no attempt at all to remove theirs exists, offer only shackles for words.”
“The religious institutions, who so frequently call for tolerance for themselves, would be better exercised in setting a better example in their treatment of others first.” “Nonetheless, ERG extends its recognition to and gratitude for the support and solidarity of many religious people in the Community, both straight and gay, who do not align themselves with extreme views.”
Mr Alvarez urged LGBT citizens and supporters to make their views known. Adding that “…if necessary, we will exercise our democratic rights by taking to the streets.”
“While ERG prefers to encourage calm and understanding by continuing to urge everyone to act morally and with patience and rectitude for the law, if the religious establishment insists on aggressively encroaching into the private, political and civil affairs of citizens, and thus failing in their respect towards others, ERG cannot and will not permit any obstacle, whether in plain light or in dark corridors, to get in the way even one inch of minorities’ freedoms being denied or taken away,” he said.
“We urge Government to take decisive and swift action in favour of full equality and end the possible exacerbation of tensions by slow strangulation. The community at large is behind you and with you and the Opposition.”
Photo by David Parody