The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that
marriage should remain between opposite-sex couples - because
anything else would be forcing unwanted change on the UK.
The comments came in a speech at a World Council of Churches
gathering in Geneva, yesterday.
There, he told delegates that while anti-discrimination
legislation was beneficial and necessary for protecting the
vulnerable, it should not be used to cultivate cultural
Specifically, he said that human rights laws "falls short of a
legal charter to promote change in institutions."
Adding: "If it is said that a failure to legalise assisted suicide
- or same-sex marriage - perpetuates stigma or marginalisation for
some people, the reply must be, I believe, that issues like stigma
and marginalisation have to be addressed at the level of culture
rather than law."
He added human rights language could be "confused and artificial",
even becoming "an alien culture, pressing the imperatives of
universal equality over all local custom and affinity."
Critics say the comments - which follow Lord Carey's assertion
that gay marriage is wrong - were devised to slow British Prime
Minister David Cameron from forging ahead with his promise to
implement gay marriage.
However, Williams did argue that nations which actively persecute
homosexuality are wrong and have "no justification".
"Laws that criminalise certain kinds of sexual behaviour need the
most careful scrutiny: legislation in this area is very definitely
to do with the protection of the vulnerable from those with power
to exploit and harm. Go beyond this, and the territory is a lot
"Many societies would now recognize that legal interference with
some sorts of consensual sexual conduct can be both unworkable and
open to appalling abuse.This concern for protection from violence
and intimidation can be held without prejudging any moral question;
religion and culture have their own arguments on