By Gudrun Schultz

LONDON, United Kingdom, January 13, 2006 ( – UK pastors are alarmed at a report issued by the EU’s Network of Independent Experts on Human Rights that says clergy and registrars should not have the right to refuse to ‘marry’ gay couples.

The report states that “right of access” should take precedence over rights of conscience for clergy or registrars.

Although the issue is currently theoretical, since gay ‘marriage’ has not been legalized in the UK, clergy are concerned that the EU’s report indicates a growing disregard for rights of conscience.

Although the recommendations purport to refer only to cases where there is no alternative registrar or clergyman available to perform the ceremony, in fact the authors of the report justify the recommendation by referring to a case in the Netherlands where a registrar was fired for refusing to perform a same-sex ceremony, despite the presence of other registrars willing to take over.

In that case, the Panel that made the ruling stated that although “the right to religious conscientious objection may be invoked by an officer refusing to celebrate a marriage between two persons of the same sex,” nevertheless, “any form of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (as would result from the refusal to celebrate a marriage between two persons of the same sex where this institution is recognized)…should not be tolerated, and the public authorities should ensure in such circumstances that other officers will be available and willing to celebrate those unions.”

The EU Network also recommended that similar obligations be placed on medical doctors who object to carrying out euthanasia on their patients, and who refuse to perform abortions—in cases where issues of conscience interfere with “rights”, the EU recommends that “rights” be given precedence.

See EU report at:

EU says Catholic Doctors Must be Forced to Abort