Gay marriage bid 'attack on Christian faith'
A PETITION against gay marriage which was circulated by an Ammanford minister has been described as "ferocious and deeply offensive" by a leading charity.
The minister of Saron Baptist Church, Lyn Rees, said he was taking a stance against what he feels are UK Government plans to change the definition of marriage — which he believes is "divinely ordained".
But Stonewall Cymru, the gay, lesbian, and bisexual charity, said Mr Rees's petition was part of a wider campaign which has in recent weeks compared equality for gay people to "slavery, child abuse, polygamy and bestiality".
On being told about the petition, Andrew White, the director of Stonewall Cymru, said: "There is a ferocious and deeply offensive campaign which many people — including some leading clerics and political figures — are waging to frustrate the move to end the ban on civil marriage for same-sex couples.
"In the past six weeks alone equality for gay people has been compared to slavery, child abuse, polygamy and bestiality.
"Marriage equality is an incredibly important aim for gay people throughout Wales, including many people of faith, which is why Stonewall Cymru is campaigning for it.
"Our message to those who disagree with same-sex marriage is simple: Don't marry someone of the same sex."
Mr Rees said his petition was an independent document being circulated to Baptist churches in the area. Although he said it is not directly linked to the UK-wide Coalition 4 Marriage (C4M) movement, which campaigns for similar aims, his petition does direct people to it.
"If people want to live in a different way, no problem," said Mr Rees. "But once they come into the realm of the Christian faith, I resent anybody trying to change the definition of marriage I believe is God-ordained.
"Personally, I feel it is another attack on the Christian faith and I felt I had to just get my point of view across."
It is understood Tycroes Baptist Church is among two churches in the area to sign the petition, but it declined to give an interview when approached by the Post.
Mr Rees's petition criticises UK Coalition Government plans to allow same-sex couples in England and Wales to marry.
A 12-week Home Office consultation on the issue was launched on March 12.
The proposals would: Allow same-sex couples to marry in a register office or other civil ceremony; allow couples already in a civil partnership to convert it into a marriage; and allow married people to legally change gender. But the plans would not alter the law for religious marriage.
Mr Rees said he would present the petition to Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards and AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas.
In a joint comment, Mr Edwards and Mr Thomas said: "Looking at the recommendations by the UK Government, we cannot see any threat to the independence of nonconformist denominations or the services being held in their chapels.
"Plaid's political philosophy is based on creating a civilised and equal society. To realise this vision we support policies which prevent discrimination on the basis of language, gender, race, religion, age, disability and sexuality.
"As people will be aware, Plaid politicians have reacted angrily to anyone who discriminates against individuals or organisations in relation to the Welsh language. It would be hypocritical for us politically, therefore, to support the view of discrimination against another minority group."