London law society bans ‘marriage’ conference because it contradicts its ‘diversity’ policy
By Peter Wooding
Europe Bureau Chief for ASSIST News Service
(ANS) LONDON– The Law Society in London has banned a Christian organisation (which forms part of a Family Values Coalition, World Congress of Families) from hosting an informal discussion at its headquarters on the issue of Marriage entitled “One man. One woman. Making the case for marriage for the good of society.”
The London Law Society
According to a Christian Concern press release, in an email to Christian
Concern the Law Society stated that the event “does not fit within the company’s diversity policy’.
The press release goes on to explain how a range of high profile speakers had been due to participate at the event at the Law Society HQ in Chancery Lane, London at the end of the month, including a senior High Court Judge Sir Paul Coleridge, a senior Family Law Practitioner Peter Duckworth, the Chairman of conservative think-tank, Bow Group, Ben Harris-Quinney, Director of ResPublica Phillip Blond and media commentator Cristina Odone.
Now, Christian Concern, led by former Family Law Barrister, Andrea Williams, has been told its booking has been cancelled because of its belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
In an astonishing email, Adam Tallis, General Manager of Ampersand at The Law Society, said: “The nature of your event has recently been drawn to our attention, and it is contrary to our diversity policy, espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same sex marriage.”
The Law Society’s decision comes at a time when the debate over the UK Government’s proposal to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples has reached fever pitch after over half a million people have signed a petition opposing the plans and the observation by some Conservative MPs that their recent local election losses were suffered because of the British Prime Minister’s support for same-sex ‘marriage’.
Yesterday, Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, said: “We are proud of our role in promoting diversity in the solicitors’ profession and felt that the content of this conference sat uncomfortably with our stance. Through our events and venues supplier, we have assisted the organisers in identifying an alternative, non Law Society venue’.
CEO Christian Concern
Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern insists that this is not good enough.
“We’re not looking at another venue. I’ve not spoken to them about another venue. We’re asking the law society to honour its contract with us. I was called to the Bar in 1988 and am proud of our country’s long and great legal history, leading the world in promoting and protecting freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. I will not be hounded out of a legal institution for holding a debate on marriage.
“Some speakers and delegates won’t necessarily share the view of Christian Concern. The Law Society is banning the debate – and since when can debate be against diversity?
“This action by the professional body of thousands of solicitors across the UK, all of whom would be supportive of ‘free speech’, demonstrates how discussion on traditional views of marriage is being shut down before any change in the law to redefine marriage has come into force.
“How can the Law Society’s ‘diversity policy’ not include the protection and respect of a range of views on the issue of marriage and, why has the Law Society adopted a pro-same-sex marriage policy ahead of the outcome of the Government’s Consultation and, without consulting its members?”
Christian Concern, as local organisers of the World Congress event, holds the historic traditional view, indeed, the current legal view, that ‘Marriage’ is defined as being between one man and one woman.
The conference, Entitled ‘One man, one woman: making the case for marriage, for the good of society’, was being billed as a colloquium that sought to “consider how an integrated, compelling case for authentic marriage can be constructed and communicated in the current climate”.
Andrea Williams, added: “It is extraordinary that the professional body that regulates solicitors in this country seems to have such a fundamental misreading of the Equality Act.
“This colloquium was intended to be a genuine open debate on the issues, constructing a case for marriage in the public sphere, and they seem to be closing it down.
“Of all the places in society where you might expect freedom of debate to be protected, the regulatory body of the legal profession would surely be at the top of the list!
“This statement is highly political, highly charged and wholly inappropriate. A lot of lawyers will be very alarmed by this and ashamed of their regulatory body for taking such action.”
Contributor, Ben Harris-Quinney, Bow Group Chairman, said:
“Emotive debate has surrounded the issue of homosexual marriage, particularly since plans to legislate further on the issue were put forth by the government for the term of this Parliament. In light of this it must be correct for parties to come together to debate the issue in forum.
“As Chairman of the Bow Group I have been invited to many debates of this nature to give my view on the legislative process. In doing so I have often shared a podium with those that I disagree with, but I have always supported the spirit of open debate and free speech.
“That a broad and professional organisation like the Law Society would decide to attempt to ban such a necessary, salient debate from taking place on their premises is exceptionable, and calls into question the value of their function in representing solicitors in England & Wales in upholding the law of a free nation.”