Gay Marriage: McGrath – “Conscience Clause is a right not a concession” – – Our News, Your Views

Gay Marriage: McGrath – “Conscience Clause is a right not a concession”


Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that he supports the calls that are being made for the provision of a conscience clause in the event of the same sex marriage referendum being passed. Deputy McGrath was speaking after a number of faith based groups launched a petition requesting protection for their community’s ability to withhold the provision of services which may contradict their view of marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman:

“I think what the petition is seeking to have introduced is a fair and proportionate request to the Minister for Justice.

In one sense it is merely asking the Minister to copper-fasten existing protections in terms of the right of schools or faith groups to live their ethos without fear of being hauled before the court of public opinion as bigots or homophobic.

We know from the Ashers Bakery case in Northern Ireland and the Drogheda printers experience that these are not imaginary fears.

The conscience clause would not be a charter for discrimination as some people are proposing, but merely a modest recognition that people of reasonable faith should not be forced into directly supporting measures which violate their conscience.

I would also say that this issue is not as simplistic as some people are asserting.

There is a legitimate right not to be discriminated against in the exercise of one’s religious beliefs that is recognised in both national and international rights documents.

Of course tensions will exist in seeking to protect other such rights, but that does not mean that the discussion should be shut down or rejected out of hand as appears to be the case here given the Tánaiste’s comments recently.

Whatever happens it is my genuine hope that the process will not become an adversarial or disrespectful one, but one in which all elements of our communities can seek to forge a way to live together that truly respects difference ” concluded Deputy McGrath.

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