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Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Monday, 19 March 2012

Same sex unions 'a sideways assault on religion'

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The government's consultation on legalising gay marriage is dividing opinion among religious leaders with some Jewish leaders coming out in favour of it while others accuse the government of leading an assault on gay marriage. The debate is also pitting Sikhs against Quakers.

Lord Singh, head of the Network of Sikh Organisations, said that while "Sikhism teaches total respect for other ways of life", marriage means the union between a man and woman and they believe that civil partnerships give gays and lesbian all the rights they need.

"This is a sideways assault on religion by vocal secular minority" he told the Today programme's Sarah Montague.

Rachel Muers, Quaker theologian and senior lecturer in Christian studies at the University of Leeds, said that Quakers are looking to "affirm and celebrate" same sex unions in a religious context and have been pushing for legislation to allow this since 2009.

"We are clear that we can't impose our believes on others," she said, adding that they have been working "for the freedom to follow our own faith".

Lord Singh said that they were concerned about the changing the meaning of the word "marriage".

By calling same sex unions, marriages it was "diluting it and distorting it" and is "totally unnecessary".

"Why call it marriage?" he continued: "it is something completely different".


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