Challenges to faith, tradition rock British

Why would officials back a ban on wearing cross necklaces? On kids having best friends? What's going on in the United Kingdom?

Continued from page 3

The court ruled in the French case that same-sex marriage is not a human right, but depends on local law. The European Court rules on

disputes arising from the European Convention on Human Rights which was incorporated into UK law in the Human Rights Act 1998.

The ruling came as a result of a case involving a French lesbian couple who complained that France would not allow them to adopt a child. The court ruled that, because the couple were civil partners, they did not have the rights of married people, who in France have the sole right to adopt a child as a couple.

However, that could change, explained the court’s specialist in discrimination law, Neil Addison: “Once same-sex marriage has been legalized then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage. This means that if same-sex marriage is legalized in the UK it will be illegal for the government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.”

Human rights do not apply in that case, nor in the Facebook controversy where a British judge decided a Christian demoted at work for posting private comments on his Facebook page criticizing gay marriage on moral grounds cannot cite human rights as a defense.

Adrian Smith sued his employers saying that demoting him for his private comments on Facebook was an infringement of his rights to freedom of speech and belief. In Manchester County Court, District Judge Charles Khan ruled Smith's human rights defense did not apply and found the employer, the Trafford Housing Trust, blameless for its actions.

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Smith had posted a comment on his Facebook page, outside of working hours, stating that it is wrong to force churches to conduct same-sex weddings. “If the state wants to offer civil marriages to the same sex then that is up to the state; but the state shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience,” he wrote on his Facebook “status update” to friends.

A colleague complained to their employer. As a result, Smith was found guilty of gross misconduct, for which he faced a demotion and a pay cut from 35,000 British pounds annually to 21,396. He was also given a written warning which stated that any further offense would end in his firing and that he only kept his job because of his 18-years outstanding work record.

And amid the religious debate swirling in the UK, matters were further stirred when a former London mayor seeking to return to office, Ken Livingstone, vowed in a speech to make the British capital a “beacon of Islam,” according to the Daily Telegraph’s London Editor Andrew Gilligan.

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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