UK & World News
Gay Marriage: Muslim Leaders Want Exemption
Muslim leaders have demanded the same legal exemptions as the Church of England and the Church in Wales in legislation to introduce gay marriages.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said it was "appalled" by "utterly discriminatory" legislation on gay marriage set out by the Government last week.
Under the proposals, faith groups could opt in if they wanted to conduct gay marriages but there would be an explicit ban for the established Churches of England and Wales.
The MCB, along with other religious organisations, is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage and now wants an urgent meeting with Culture Secretary Maria Miller.
Secretary-general Farooq Murad said: "No-one in their right mind should accept such a discriminatory law. It should be amended to give exactly the same exemption to all the religions."
The group has more than 500 affiliated mosques, charities and schools.
Their criticism comes after the Church of England attacked the Government's lack of consultation over the controversial plans.
Senior ecclesiastical figures learned of them only when Mrs Miller announced them to Parliament.
Officials insisted it would have been "inappropriate" to discuss details before telling MPs.
Mrs Miller tried to head off opposition by outlining a "quadruple lock" of measures to guarantee religious organisations would not have to marry same-sex couples against their wishes.
No religious group or individual could be forced to conduct gay weddings or allow them to happen on their premises.
It would be illegal to hold a gay marriage unless the organisation's governing body has expressly opted in;
And the Equality Act 2010 will be amended so that no discrimination claim can be brought if someone refuses to host a gay wedding.
The legislation will also explicitly state that it will be illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples.