The former Labour MP Lord Stoddart says the UK must be prepared to leave the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) if it comes into conflict with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales.
Lord Stoddart, 87, a staunch Eurosceptic and former chairman of the Campaign for an Independent Britain said in May that the concept of same-sex marriage was “bogus” and that many gay people “do not want this”.
Labour MP for Swindon between 1970–1983, the life peer has tabled an amendment to the bill.
It states: “In the event that the provisions of this Act are found by the European Court of Human Rights to be incompatible with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Secretary of State shall act to withdraw the United Kingdom’s signature to the Convention.”
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, the vice president of the Law Society, said in June 2012 that it was unlikely that the European Court of Human Rights would rule against a religious organisation in a same-sex marriage legal case.
European law already puts protection for religious freedom beyond doubt (under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights) but the government intends to go even further and put in place a “quadruple lock” in domestic law.
It will be unlawful for religious organisations, or their ministers, to marry gay couples unless the organisation’s governing body has expressly opted in to do so.
Peers will resume debate of the bill on Monday for the final day of its committee stage.