Church leaders urge States to refuse 'tolerance clause'

Two religious leaders are urging States Members to reject a 'tolerance clause', which would see businesses in Jersey able to discriminate against same-sex couples, if their marriage goes against their religion.

Jayne Ozanne, a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, and Reverend Graeme Halls, Superintendent of the Methodist Circuit in Jersey, have written open letters to States members.

This is a debate about how we ensure all of our community has equal rights and responsibilities, and that means that one group does not and cannot have the right to discriminate against another, and certainly not for that to be enshrined in law. Surely we seek a world where all are respected, all are shown equal care, and all this because, whether we have faith or not, we are one humanity, and for those with faith, we believe all are equally loved by God, made in God’s image, one Body, many parts.

Reverend Graeme Halls

Both leaders remind their readers of the Christian value of love for thy neighbour.

Anything that seeks to divide and separate us, that looks to demonise one group as the ‘other’ can only ever cause pain and suffering, particularly for the most vulnerable in our society. My prayer would be that we build a society that knits us closer together, that we enshrine the values that make us thrive and that we seek to embrace the diversity and equality of all. To do otherwise would be create a society that is defined by its divisions, which builds walls rather than bridges, and so opens the door to further discrimination against those who are our neighbours.

Jayne Ozanne

The politicians tasked with reviewing Jersey's same sex marriage law will today publish their full report in which they ask the States to approve a controversial 'conscience clause'.

If approved, the scrutiny panel's amendment would allow traders to refuse to serve gay couples things like cakes and wedding dresses on the grounds that it is incompatible with their religious beliefs.

But some say the clause would be inherently unjust.

Charity Liberate set up a petition against the amendment as it would lead to same sex couples being discriminated against.

The report also recommends that religious organisations who own buildings suitable for civil ceremonies can refuse to let same sex couples use them.