By Gudrun Schultz

GREAT BRITAIN, January 4, 2006 ( – Sir Iqbal Sacranie, top Muslim leader and head of the Muslim Council of Britain, said new same-sex civil partnerships are “harmful” to society, in an interview with BBC radio.

“It does not augur well in building the very foundations of society – stability, family relationships. And it is something we would certainly not, in any form, encourage the community to be involved in,” Sir Iqbal said.
  Britain’s Civil Partnership Act came into effect December 5, 2005. The Act grants legal status to same-sex unions, similar to that of civil marriage.
  Sir Iqbal said his statement expressed the teachings of the Muslim faith, and was also in union with the position of Judaism and Christianity on the issue, among other religions.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, spoke against same-sex civil unions in a New Year’s Day sermon, warning that reducing marriage to just one of many close relationships equal before the law is both “dangerous and mistaken.”

“Marriage is more than a close relationship between individuals. It is uniquely capable of providing stability, producing children and providing the complementary roles of mother and father. It is a social institution rather than a private relationship.”

Sir Iqbal said the harm done by homosexuality is visible in society, both in health issues and morality.

“It is not acceptable. Each of our faiths tells us that it is harmful and I think, if you look into the scientific evidence that has been available in terms of the forms of various other illnesses and diseases that are there, surely it points out that where homosexuality is practiced there is a greater concern in that area.”

He also emphasized that everyone needs to be tolerant, and should freely express their views in the democratic process, saying both those who support and oppose civil partnerships have the right to speak out.

“We may not be happy with the views being expressed by others. But the difficulty comes in that at the end of the day we are human beings.”