The leader of Britain’s Sikh community also attacked the proposal to extend the definition of marriage to same-sex couples, describing it as an “assault on religion”.Senior Roman Catholic and Anglican bishops have already warned that the move will undermine social structures dating back thousands of years.
Mr Cameron is facing a backlash from his own supporters, with senior Tory MPs, including several ministers, expected to vote against the reforms.However, he argues that the Conservatives should support gay marriage on the grounds that stability and commitment in relationships of any kind should be encouraged.
Last week, ministers published a consultation on how the changes to civil marriage laws will be introduced. The plans explicitly rule out alterations to religious marriage. However, the Muslim Council of Britain said case for the government’s proposals was “strikingly weak”.Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB, said: “Whilst we remain opposed to all forms of discrimination, including homophobia, redefining the meaning of marriage is in our opinion unnecessary and unhelpful.“With the advent of civil partnerships, both homosexual and heterosexual couples now have equal rights in the eyes of the law.
“Therefore, in our view the case to change the definition of marriage, as accepted throughout time and across cultures, is strikingly weak.In common with other Abrahamic faiths, marriage in Islam is defined as “a union between a man and a woman”, he said. “So while the state has accommodated for gay couples, such unions will not be blessed as marriage by the Islamic institutions.”Lord Singh, head of the Network of Sikh Organisations, said the proposed reforms represented “a sideways assault on religion”.
“It is an attempt by a vocal, secular minority to attack religion,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.Sikhs believed in marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that changing the definition was an attack on the English language, he said. “We have total respect for gays and lesbians and we are delighted that there is a Civil Partnership Act. We believe that this gives gays and lesbians everything they need.”Lord Singh’s criticism followed similar concerns from leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the UK and the Church of England.
Senior Conservatives have also expressed their alarm at the plan, on which Tory MPs have been promised a free vote.Writing in his Telegraph blog, the former Conservative Cabinet minister, Lord Tebbit, yesterday attacked Mr Cameron’s blueprint for a “politically correct new order”.
“No one seems to have thought through the massive legislative ramifications of the Prime Minister’s latest attempt to distance himself from that toxic Thatcherite Tory Party which kept winning elections,” he said.
“Mr Cameron’s justification for all this is that he believes in it ‘because he is a Conservative’ is absurd. Conservatives do not turn over long-standing (several thousands of years across widely different cultures all over the world, in this case) with so little thought… Perhaps it is another contagion from his Lib Dem partners.”
However, Rachel Muers, a Quaker theologian and senior lecturer in Christian studies at the University of Leeds, said Quakers wanted to “affirm and celebrate” same-sex couples in a religious context.q“We are clear that we can’t impose our beliefs on others,” she told the Today programme. – Thetelegraph