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7 Dec, 2020 15:37

Labour faith minister resigns after defending right of religious people not to officiate same-sex marriages

Labour faith minister resigns after defending right of religious people not to officiate same-sex marriages

UK Shadow Faith Minister Janet Daby has resigned, begging forgiveness for her “misjudged comments” defending officials’ right not to oversee same-sex marriages if it ran contrary to their religion or conscience.

Daby announced her resignation on Monday via tweet, “sincerely” apologising for comments she’d made the previous week defending “people of faith” from being forced to officiate same-sex marriages that violate their religious beliefs. 

She reiterated her own support for same-sex marriage and observed Labour’s 15-year anniversary of “celebrating civil partnerships.” 

A Labour spokesperson did not comment on Daby’s apology but told reporters a replacement would be appointed “in due course.” Daby, an MP for Lewisham East since 2018, had held the shadow faith minister role since April.

Daby’s “misjudged comments,” made during a Zoom briefing for the Religion Media Centre on Friday, argued registrars whose personal beliefs include an objection to same-sex marriages should not lose their jobs if they decline to officiate such a ceremony.

There needs to be something in place that respects people's conscience and views of faith, as well as that protects people's rights that want to ensure they can also be treated equally within their own rights as well,” the MP said, calling it an issue of “conscience.”

It’s almost similar, as well, to whether someone wishes to partake in the medical process of an abortion – I think nurses have a choice,” she explained, also comparing the issue to “a vote of conscience in Parliament” while acknowledging the issue was “highly complex and controversial” and that she needed “more information on it.

Also on rt.com Labour suspends two activists for backing Corbyn in anti-Semitism row & accusing Starmer of ‘colluding with Tories’

Labour has severely restricted the range of opinions its members are permitted to express in public under party leader Keir Starmer, who replaced Jeremy Corbyn after Labour lost last year’s election. Corbyn himself was suspended from the party for denouncing a report that alleged its ranks were rife with anti-Semitism. In a Facebook post, Corbyn argued the report “dramatically overstated” the issue “for political reasons.” 

He has since been barred from holding the party whip, effectively forcing him to sit in the House of Commons as an independent even though a disciplinary panel voted to lift his suspension and he has been technically reinstated to Labour. Corbyn and his ideological allies in the party have been dogged by what many consider to be spurious accusations of anti-Semitism due to their outspoken advocacy for Palestinian rights.

Thousands of pro-Corbyn party members are currently facing possible expulsion from Labour, while Starmer himself has been accused of leading a “witch hunt” against his predecessor. 

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