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Councillor’s plea to protect staff from Same-Sex Marriage Act dismissed

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 October 2013

Cllr Brian Coleman

Cllr Brian Coleman

Archant

Former mayor of Barnet Cllr Brian Coleman has admitted defeat after the council dismissed his latest attack on the Same Sex Marriage Act.

Cllr Brian Coleman, who sits as an independent representative for Totteridge ward after being expelled from the Conservative Party for assaulting a woman, requested the council lobby the government over the legislation.

He has demanded amendments to the law to protect council staff and registrars should they not wish to marry same-sex couples on moral or religious grounds.

Speaking at last Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Coleman said: “This act is a dreadful and silly piece of legislation and I know many gay men and women who think the same.

“We now have no protection if [council staff] have a moral objection to implement this policy, so we are effectively ruling out vast areas of our community from taking jobs as registrars.”

He went on to express his particular concern for those in the orthodox Jewish, devout Anglican and Roman Catholic communities who may now feel sidelined.

The openly gay councillor’s request for amendments to the act was submitted just one day before it received Royal Ascension in July this year.

But a report from the leader of Barnet Council was still drafted following his request and appeared clear in its dismissal of the amendments when published last week.

Cllr Arjun Mittra, Labour representative for East Finchley, who submitted an opposing amendment, argued that no such problems had ever arisen at Barnet Council.

He said: “I respect his [Cllr Coleman’s] right to express his views and opinion but I feel we should be celebrating and congratulating the decision to allow the gay community the right to marriage.

“There was a full and proper debate in Parliament including consultations with registrar groups on whether an opt-out amendment was needed.

“I understand some people may have concerns but there was a similar debate a few years ago in the council and since then no particular problems have arisen.”

A staff member of the Barnet Register Office said they had so far not encountered any registrars who had expressed concerns following the passing of the act. Cllr Coleman admitted his proposals had now become irrelevant but insisted his argument remained sound.


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