Archbishop of Glasgow hits out at ‘foolish’ gay marriage supporters

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Another Scottish Catholic leader has attacked proposals to bring marriage equality to the country.

Mario Conti, the Archbishop of Glasgow, said that allowing gay marriage would be “foolish” and render marriage “meaningless”.

Earlier this week, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, accused marriage equality campaigners of trying to “rewrite nature”.

The SNP government recently announced a consultation on the issue and deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said ministers were minded towards giving gay couples equal marriage rights.

Sixty-one per cent of the Scottish public support allowing gay couples to wed, the 2010 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found.

In a letter to the Herald, Archbishop Conti suggested that the majority of the public who back marriage equality were “foolish”.

He wrote: “In a proposed consultation regarding the redefinition of civil partnerships, we are talking not of human rights or of civil liberties, nor of legal or fiscal equalities, but of redefining a particular relationship to give it a meaning it doesn’t possess.

“We would use a word which carries huge significance, and render it meaningless in respect of one of its essential attributes, its capacity to create a natural family – I mean of course marriage. That 60 per cent of the population, according to one poll, is of a mind to accept that change may suggest to some a liberal society, but to others a foolish one.”

He added that religious leaders would “fall foul” of the law for refusing to allow gay marriages, although the government has said churches would be permitted to choose whether to hold the ceremonies.

Tim Hopkins of the Equality Network said: “It seems clear that the Catholic Church leadership will do whatever it can to try to stop equal marriage in Scotland.

“No one should assume that because the government is consulting on the issue, and is initially “minded” to legislate, that equality is in the bag. It is not, and we will not get equality unless we all work for it.”

As with the rest of the UK, Scotland allows gay couples to have civil partnerships. Gay rights campaigners are pushing for full marriage equality.

Last year, a poll of more than 800 readers found that 98 per cent wanted the right to marry.