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Last Updated: Friday, 1 August, 2003, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
'Reject gay rights move'
Archbishop Mario Conti
Attempts to give equivalent rights and legal recognition to other unions would be subversive of the right order
Archbishop Mario Conti

An archbishop has called on MSPs to vote against giving homosexual partners the same legal rights as married couples.

Glasgow's Archbishop Mario Conti said the plans, outlined in a private members' bill set to be tabled by Green MSP Patrick Harvie, were "subversive".

He also called on Catholic politicians to follow their consciences rather than the party whips when the time came to vote on the matter.

The archbishop spoke out after the Vatican re-stated its opposition to same-sex unions.

Mr Harvie's Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill would provide unmarried couples in "committed" relationships with equality in areas like inheritance, pensions and bereavement.

But The Most Rev Conti said MSPs should reject the proposed legislation.

He said: "The only privileged legal union in society is the family.

Heinz Fredrich Harre and partner Reinhard Luechow celebrate in Germany
German couples have been granted inheritance and tenants' rights
"Attempts to give equivalent rights and legal recognition to other unions would be subversive of the right order - it is not for the law to reconstruct humanity.

"It is important that all citizens are able to protect their legitimate interests.

"Many existing legal mechanisms allow this without compromising the primacy of marriage as the most secure and stable building block of civil society."

Similar plans to give legal recognition to non-married couples have been unveiled at Westminster.

But Catholic Church spokesman John Deighan said he hoped MSPs would support the stance of the church by not backing the bill.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "It is not homophobia and we have no gripe against homosexuals per se but we believe that the homosexual relationship is subversive."

Meeting offer

Mr Harvie, a Glasgow list MSP, has offered to meet the Catholic church to discuss his bill.

He said: "An MSP, or any other elected politician, has a duty to serve all their constituents, whatever their sexuality and whatever their religion.

"As an MSP, I wouldn't tolerate this level of discrimination in law against Catholics or any other religious minority or majority and I don't think that Catholic MSPs should tolerate this kind of discrimination.

"We're not proposing to reconstruct humanity, we simply want the state to support all families on their own terms."


WATCH AND LISTEN
John Deighan, of the Catholic Church
"Morality differentiates between good and evil"



SEE ALSO:
Ministers look at gay rights plan
30 Jun 03  |  Scotland
New rights for gay couples
30 Jun 03  |  Politics
MSP seeks gay rights shake-up
13 May 03  |  Scotland
Gay rights plan receives backing
06 Dec 02  |  Politics
Gay couples 'to get equal rights'
06 Dec 02  |  Politics


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