Current Affairs

Government apologises to anti-gay group over conference centre ban

Nick Duffy January 24, 2015
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The government has apologised to anti-gay group Christian Concern, after the group was stopped from using a state-owned conference centre.

The right-wing pressure group claims to present a “Christian voice” in politics – but dedicates much of its lobbying power to opposing gay rights.

The group has unsuccessfully opposed civil partnerships, same-sex marriage, anti-discrimination laws, and IVF provisions, while founder Andrea Minichiello Williams has claimed school children are being indoctrinated into homosexuality.

In 2012, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre – which is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government – refused to host the group’s conference to oppose marriage equality – titled ‘One Man, One Woman – Making the case for marriage for the good of society’.

However, after legal action, the group has now reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with both the Centre, and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles.

A joint statement said: “Christian Concern, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (“the Centre”) and the Department for Communities and Local Government are pleased to announce that agreement has been reached in relation to the cancellation of Christian Concern’s booking for a conference on marriage on 23 May 2012.

“The Centre regrets that its decision to cancel the contract caused Christian Concern, as well as its invited speakers and delegates, disappointment and inconvenience.

“The parties uphold the rights and freedoms of other members of society based on the principles of a democratic society.

“The Centre accepts that some people have deeply held views about the nature of marriage, and that every individual has the freedom to express these in accordance with the law.

“The Centre also respects Christian Concern’s view that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that view is sincerely held.

“We live in a multi-faith society with a deep Christian ethos. The Government reaffirms its commitment to the long-standing British liberties of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association with mutual respect for the dignity and rights and freedoms of others, including the right of Christian Concern to debate their views.

“The Centre confirms that there was no intention to discriminate against Christian Concern. Going forward, the Centre is happy to work closely with Christian Concern to stage a future event about marriage or other issue of interest.”

A statement from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said: “The Government reaffirms its commitment to the long-standing British liberties of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association with mutual respect for the dignity and rights and freedoms of others, including the right of Christian Concern to debate their views.”

Related topics: Andrea Minichiello Williams, Andrea Wlliams, Anti-gay, Christian Concern, homophobic, London, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre

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