Christian group goes to court over cancelled marriage conference
Published 03 July 2012
Christian Concern is taking the Law Society and a government-owned conference centre and to court after they cancelled the group's marriage conference.
The conference was organised by Christian Concern and the World Congress of Families to debate the nature and role of marriage in light of the Government's consultation on legalising same-sex marriage.
The Law Society cancelled Christian Concern's conference booking on the grounds that it breached their equalities policy.
The group then booked the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, opposite the Houses of Parliament.
However, the booking was cancelled by the conference centre the day before the conference was due to start on 23 May.
The conference centre justified the cancellation on the grounds that the event was “inappropriate”.
At the time, Christian Concern sought an emergency injunction overnight but as no lawyers from the Treasury Solicitors Office were available, the injunction was unable to proceed.
Now Christian Concern is taking the Law Society and the QEII Centre to court for breach of contract. The group says that the hire agreement with the QE II Centre provided for termination by the centre only for a failure to pay.
Despite the last-minute cancellation at the QEII Centre, the conference was able to go ahead as scheduled on 23 May after an alternative venue was found.
In addition to breach of contract, Christian Concern is making a claim in respect of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 in relation to the group's stance on marriage.
Christian Concern's chief executive Andrea Minichiello Williams said the QE II Centre had failed to give any justification for revoking the booking.
"The conference supported the legal definition of marriage, as do 70% of the British public according to a recent ComRes poll," she said.
"The implication of the decision to cancel this booking is that belief in marriage between a man and a woman is offensive and that those who hold such an opinion have to be treated less favourably as a result.
“There is no justification in contract, or in law generally, for the Law Society or the QEII Centre to hold this position, and their termination of their contracts with Christian Concern is a breach of the terms of the contract."
The Law Society and the QE IICentre have 7 days to respond before court papers will be served on them by solicitors for Christian Concern.
Mrs Williams continued: “Gay rights’ group Stonewall has recently held its conferences in the Law Society and the QEII Centre attended by Government Ministers. These conferences talk about promoting 'equality and diversity'.
"Yet it would seem that neither the Law Society or the QEII Centre extends the same hospitality to Christian groups.
"In this brave new world dominated by an 'equality and diversity' culture, some groups seem to be more equal than others.
"Indeed, dare to challenge the new political orthodoxy and you're left out in the cold and branded hateful and phobic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Their treatment of us is more akin to life in a totalitarian state, not the Britain that has historically led the world in promoting freedom."
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