Hilary White


Scottish Parliament Bans Criticism of Homosexuality by Religious Guest Speakers

Hilary White

EDINBURGH, May 4, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The national Parliament of Scotland instituted a four-minute slot in its proceedings in which representatives of Scotland’s religions would be invited to speak. On the whole, the slot called, “A Time for Reflection”, has mainly consisted of innocuous moments in which ministers come to Holyrood to speak in bland terms on inoffensive topics.

That changed slightly on December 22, 2004, when Keith Cardinal O’Brien, the Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, gave a Christmas reflection with the merest hint that homosexuality is an “aberration.” Cardinal O’Brien quoted Christ quoting Isaiah: “He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.” The Cardinal then mentioned the poor in spirit in Scottish society, “There are many in our communities who are captives in some way or another—captives to an addiction to drink, drugs, sexual aberrations or whatever.”

The Cardinal’s mild and indirect apparent reference to Catholic teaching on homosexuality prompted one leftist MSP to propose a motion to prohibit any religious minister from speaking against homosexuality.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie tabled a motion, quickly signed by 16 other members, to prohibit the expression of dissent from the homosexual agenda. The motion read, “That the Parliament condemns the use of the phrase “captives … to sexual aberrations” to describe Scotland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.” The motion called Cardinal O’Brien’s observation a ‘gratuitous insult.’

Since then the rules for ministers giving the Time for Reflection have been revised to prohibit ‘discrimination.’ Speakers’ comments, the new rules say, “will be consistent with the principle of equal opportunities for all and should not include remarks or comments which are discriminatory.”

A spokesman for the Archdiocese said the new rules make Parliament seem ‘petty and mean spirited. “Discrimination is in the ear of the beholder,” he said. “If MSPs don’t want to be questioned or challenged, it calls into question the whole purpose of the slot. Maybe they should consider scrapping it altogether if they are not willing to entertain freedom of expression."

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