The controversial Easter message from the leader of Scotland’s Roman Catholic church contained an attack on new rights for lesbian and gay parents.
Press coverage has concentrated on Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s claims that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill will create “Frankenstein-like” human-animal hybrid embryos, a charge rejected by the government and scientists.
During his speech on Sunday the Cardinal accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown of: “promoting a bill which denies that a child has a biological father, allows tampering with birth certificates, removing biological parents, and inserting someone altogether different.”
The Cardinal also accused the government of trying to challenge “standards by which we have lived throughout our lives and by which Christians have lived for the past 2,000 years” and of not responding to the church’s concerns.
In November 2006 Cardinal O’Brien compared same-sex partnerships to paedophilia and also spoke against gay adoption.
“The norm has always been that children have been born as the result of the love of man and woman in the unity of a marriage,” he said on Sunday.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill contains new rules that will allow gay and lesbian couples to become the legal parents of a child conceived through donated sperm.
The provisions also mean that lesbians will have equal access to fertility services, which could mean IVF but is much more likely to mean assisted conception.
Lord Tebbit, the former Tory Cabinet minister, was one of those opposed to removing the responsibility entrusted to IVF clinics to consider the need for a father from legislation and replacing it with “supportive parenting.”
“A child’s life prospects are better if it grows up in a family, with a father and a mother, than if it lacks either of them. In general, these are indisputable facts,” he said.
“This Bill, as drafted, tends to marginalise fathers. That is true, but it is not the worst of it.
“As for human rights law, do not children have human rights? Does not an unborn child have rights?
“Indeed, perhaps one could extend it to the concept that a child not yet conceived, has a right? I think it does. It has a human right to a father and a mother. We should ensure that we do all we can to see that that is carried through.”
However, despite the objections of some peers and bishops, the legislation passed the Lords earlier this month.