Tory MP: Teachers preaching against gay marriage could face anti-extremism orders

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A Tory MP has claimed that he anti-extremism orders could be used against teachers who are “specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong”.

The Conservative government has brought in tough new Extremism Disruption Orders to tackle extremist religious groups, amid fears of dangerous extremism in some religious schools.

However, according to the Telegraph, Tory MP Mark Spencer claimed in a letter to a constituency that the orders “would apply” where a teacher was claiming equality was wrong.

The MP for Sherwood, who abstained on the same-sex marriage vote in 2013, claimed: “I believe that everybody in society has a right to free speech and to express their views without fear of persecution.

He added: “The EDOs will not serve to limit but rather to guarantee it: it is those who seek to stop other people expressing their beliefs who will be targeted.

“Let me give you an example, one which lots of constituents have been writing about – talking about gay marriage in schools.”

Explaining that teachers will still be “perfectly entitled to express their views”, he added: “The new legislation specifically targets hate speech, so teachers will still be free to express their understanding of the term ‘marriage’, and their moral opposition to its use in some situations without breaking the new laws.

“The EDOs, in this case, would apply to a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong.”

Simon Calvert of the anti-gay Christian Institute has lashed out at the MP’s claim.

He insisted: “I am genuinely shocked that we have an MP supporting the idea of teachers being branded extremists for teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“This is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been warning about.

“The Government says we’ve got nothing to worry about from their new extremism laws, but here is one of its own MPs writing to a constituent saying EDOs would stop teachers teaching mainstream Christian beliefs.”

“Ten years ago the Conservatives opposed Tony Blair’s unpopular law against ‘inciting religious hatred’, saying it jeopardised free speech – yet here they are seeking to bring in an even worse law.

“EDOs will be a gross infringement of free speech and undermine the very British values they claim to protect.”