Sir – In his letter in last week’s "Northern Times", Andrew Homes appears to be suggesting that allowing same sex marriage would lead to discrimination against Christians. This is not the case. Firstly, most Christian denominations, including both the Catholic Church (to which I belong) and the Church of Scotland, are divided on the issue. The Church of Scotland is currently engaged in an at times heated debate on homosexuality, and recent research suggests that a substantial proportion of Catholics in Scotland support the right of gay people to marry.
No matter how much the Cardinals and Bishops may fume, many of the lay men and women they claim to represent disagree with them.
Secondly, it has been made clear that those religious clerics – regardless of their denomination or religion – who disagree with gay marriage will not be forced to conduct such services. This is as it should be, and this right is supported by all those in favour of gay marriage.
I hope that religious bodies like the Catholic Church which oppose gay marriage will show the same tolerance, and allow those clerics who support equality to conduct such services.
I would also take issue with Mr Homes on his comments regarding education. All young people – regardless of race or gender or sexuality – should be entitled to an education that promotes equality, tolerance and diversity; and all young people are entitled to a safe environment at school. This appears not to be the case.
Recently Stonewall Scotland published the results of research carried out by the University of Cambridge.
The findings include the following:
52 per cent of young gay people in Scottish secondary schools have experienced homophobic bullying, and of these over two thirds say their school failed to respond quickly to the bullying.
26 per cent of gay young Scots have attempted suicide and 54 per cent have deliberately self harmed.
Rather than denying a section of the population the right to marry, we should be concentrating on making our schools and other public places safe environments for all, regardless of race, gender or sexuality. It is a pity that some of our religious leaders fail to recognise this.