High Court Judge who criticised same-sex marriage had promised to ‘keep a low profile’ on subject

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A high court judge has come under-fire for arguing that the government should not legislate for same-sex marriage as he claims it only benefits 0.1% of the population. PinkNews can reveal that last month Sir Paul Coleridge promised to take a ‘lower profile’ on the subject after complaints were made about his involvement in the debate about marriage.

Sir Paul Coleridge, said that ministers should focus on supporting married couples, rather than the “wrong policy” of equal marriage, which he said only affects “0.1” of the population.

The High Court judge started a charity to combat the breakdown of families, the Marriage Foundation, and through it he has encouraged people to “recycle rubbish, but not your partner” and to “mend it, don’t end it”. He said:

“So much energy and time has been put into this debate for 0.1% of the population, when we have a crisis of family breakdown,

“It’s gratifying that marriage in any context is centre stage … but [equal marriage] is a minority issue. We need a much more focused position by the Government on the importance of marriage.”

The 63-year-old judge went on to say that the current proposed ban on the Church of England performing same-sex weddings, “will not end there”.

He added: “People, including vicars, and same-sex people, are unlikely to accept the government ban on marrying gays as the solution.”

In November 2012, responding to complaints about Sir Paul’s involvement with the Marriage Foundation, the Office of Judicial Complaints ruled that his involvement was not “incompatible with his judicial responsibilities and therefore does not amount to judicial misconduct.”

But it added that “Mr Justice Coleridge has agreed that a lower profile role within the organisation would be more appropriate for a serving judicial office holder.” It is likely that many will question whether a national newspaper interview and the subsequent broadcast coverage of his comments constitutes a “lower profile” role with the foundation.

On Twitter, Nick Herbert, the former policing minister said: “I’m troubled by the tone of Catholic leaders’ interventions on gay marriage … and by the intervention of a High Court Judge at all.

“A law extending minority rights proposed in a Parliamentary democracy with majority public support is hardly ‘Orwellian’.

“Since when in the eyes of the judiciary did a proposed law become unnecessary because it only affects a minority of the population?

“And a judge who intervenes in political debate damages judicial independence – whether you agree with him or not.”

Professor Richard Moorhead, director of the Centre for Ethics and Law at University College London, said that Sir Paul’s intervention was “sad and unwise”. He asked if “judges [should] enter into public debates with fatuous statistics”. He also asked if doing so “undermines their legitimacy in the long run?”

Same-sex couples in England and Wales are set to be allowed to marry, under plans announced by Culture Secretary Maria Miller in the House of Commons earlier in December.

Mrs Miller told the House of Commons that she was putting in place a “quadruple lock” of measures to guarantee religious organisations would not have to marry gay couples against their wishes, including a ban on the Church of England, and Church in Wales performing same-sex weddings.

Speaking in favour of equal marriage, on which he has said he would like Tory MPs to have a free vote, David Cameron said he did not want gay couples to be excluded from a “great institution”.