The Muslim Council of Britain has launched a website, Muslims Defending Marriage, which describes the civil partnerships system as a ‘ploy’ designed to ‘attack traditional marriage’ by giving gay couples the same legal rights as straight couples.

The site says “many people now recognise” that the purpose of the civil partnerships system was in fact to “attack traditional marriage” by allowing people to argue that marriage is “just civil partnership by another name”.

With just over a fortnight until the public consultation on marriage equality between gay and straight couples in England and Wales closes, the Council said the Muslims Defending Marriage website is not intended to be homophobic, but to promote an Islamic view of marriage.

In language similar to that of the Coalition for Marriage’s anti-equality petition, which the group says has been signed by over half a million people, the MDM website encourages readers to sign up to the statement: “I disagree with the government’s proposed re-defining of marriage. I fully support the long-standing legal definition of marriage as the voluntary union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.”

Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB which has 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools, said: “We have launched Muslims Defending Marriage (MDM) as we felt we had a duty to defend the meaning of marriage, guard its sanctity and protect the welfare of children.”

He added: “Other faith communities have already taken steps to evidence the strength of feeling in favour of keeping marriage intact. It is imperative that the Muslim community does all it can to contribute to this because we have a sacred duty to stand up for marriage and to support those, of whichever faith, that are doing so.

“We are aiming at mass participation from the Muslim community on an issue that will have such far reaching consequences for everyone.”

Earlier this year, Mr Murad said marriage equality would be “unnecessary and unhelpful”.

The website claims where there will be a “slippery slope to many more serious consequences for all religious communities, including the Muslim community” if gays are allowed to marry.

While the government has said it does not plan to allow religious marriages for gay couples, the website adds: “Can we contemplate a future in which further calls from the gay lobby will prompt the government to force imams, priests, rabbis and other religious leaders to marry gay people or face prosecution for refusing to do so?”

It warns that schools will have legal justification for “celebrating” marriage equality and “taking steps to normalise it in children’s minds”.

The “gay lobby” may also ask the government to “force teachers to teach that same sex marriage is equivalent to a genuine marriage”, it adds.

In a video on the site, Mr Murad says children “born and unborn” are “safer in marriages which are between a man and a woman”.

The Muslims Defending Marriage website is supported by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, which campaigns against gay marriage and civil partnerships.

Anthony Ozimic, the organisation’s communications manager, said: “Marriage as an institution exists to protect children, their identity and their right to know and be nurtured by both their mother and their father. Statistics show that unborn babies are four to five times more likely to be aborted outside of real marriage. As a non-denominational yet multi-faith organisation, we are very happy to support the Muslim Council of Britain’s campaign to defend the common good of marriage.”

The MDM website includes ten responses to common questions raised about marriage, and in one answer equates gay relationships with sports clubs.

It says the reason the state acknowledges marriage is not to promote stability, happiness or to “reward people simply for taking out a joint mortgage and having a sexual relationship”, but to promote the “possibility of children”.

It adds: “Forming a sports club or a business partnership might bring stability and happiness to those involved, but they don’t qualify for the rights or the title of ‘marriage’.”

On the issue of how allowing gay couples to marry would undermine straight marriages, it says: “Weakening the status of marriage in recent decades has led to fewer (heterosexual) couples getting married. Some people think marriage is pointless because statutory support has been reduced and divorce made easy. As a
result, more children are born to couples whose relationship doesn’t have the lasting personal commitment that marriage entails.”

On whether to reclassify civil partnerships as marriages, it says: “The main objection to this is that in reality, because civil partnerships exclude non-sexual relationships (like two brothers sharing a flat), the partners are legally presumed to have sexual relations.

“Many people now recognise that Civil Partnerships were introduced as a ploy to attack traditional marriage by saying ‘same-sex marriage is just civil partnership by another name’.”