Over the weekend, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, attacked plans to legalise same sex marriage in England and Scotland.

Amongst the arguments made in an article in The Telegraph, he said the plans were a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.”

His article has been widely discussed and its points contradicted by many organisations including the Humanist Society Scotland,

Ross Wright, speaking on behalf of the Humanist Society Scotland, said:

“In his attack on the proposals to allow same sex couples to marry this weekend, Cardinal O’Brien quotes The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration states that people have the right to get married which poses the question: does the cardinal not believe in the concept of universal rights or does think that gay and lesbian people are not human?”

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“Cardinal O’Brien represents a small minority in Scotland. He is, of course, entitled to his views, but the Equality and Human Rights Commission survey on attitudes to same sex marriage shows that 57% of people who identified as Catholic supported same sex marriage, so the cardinal does not even represent the views of his congregation.”

“Moreover, the definition of marriage has changed over time as has the meaning of words and the nature of many institutions. The word “voter” used to mean a property owning male over the age of 21. That definition has changed, most would say for the better. In 2010, 58% of marriages in Scotland were secular, so Scots are clearly rejecting the religious definition of marriage.”

“In the 7 years since Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) celebrants have been able to conduct legal weddings, it has become the third most popular way to get married after Registrars and the Church of Scotland. We conduct weddings for those people in Scotland who want ceremonies simply based around our common values and shared humanity.”

“The HSS is working towards a socially inclusive secular Scotland. We will continue to work with all civic, political and religious groups to ensure that all Scottish citizens have equal rights including the responsibilities and social approbation uniquely associated with the word marriage.”

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