Minister warns that Catholic schools could be breaking law over gay marriage
Catholic schools have been warned that encouraging pupils to oppose gay marriage could be breaking the law. The Welsh Government has in fact already written to Catholic schools in Wales in response to complaints that teachers were asking pupils to sign a petition opposing the Government’s plans to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage. A similar warning is being considered by ministers in Westminster.
The Coalition For Marriage campaign petition which is supported by leading religious figures such as Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury has been signed by more than 600,000 people.
Schools across England and Wales were contacted by the Catholic Education Service last month and asked to circulate a letter written by the Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark which defended the existing definition of marriage. Publicising the petition against a change in the definition was also encouraged.
Leighton Andrews, the Welsh Assembly Government minister for education and skill, criticised the actions in a written statement where he said that the call for opposition to the change in the law could constitute a ‘political’ act which is banned under the Education Act 1996.
He said: “Whilst the online petition is not directly related to a party political matter it could be seen as relating to political matters generally as the petition seeks to lobby the current Westminster Government to prevent a change in the law,” he said.
“Opposing a proposed change in the law could itself be considered to be a political act.”