Su'a William Sio, in Committee, to move the following amendments:
Replace clause 5A (lines 18 to 28 on page 2) with:
5A Section 29 amended (Licence authorizes but not obliges marriage celebrant to solemnize marriage)
In section 29, insert as subsections (2) and (3):
“(3) In this section,—
“approved organisation means an organisation that has been declared under section 9 to be an approved organisation
“celebrant means either of the following:
“religious body means a religious body enumerated in Schedule 1.”
This Supplementary Order Paper proposes amendments to clause 5A of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.
The first purpose of the amendments is to ensure full protection for celebrants from religious bodies and approved organisations to refuse to perform same-sex marriages if to do so would be against the beliefs or convictions of the celebrant or of the religious body or approved organisation.
Civil celebrants and Registrars should not have this protection because they are performing a paid public service, so their personal views on marriage are not relevant. This is consistent with the approach taken in the UK and Canada.
The amendment also confirms the right to freedom of expression by protecting persons and organisations from challenges to the lawfulness of their conduct in expressing views, or providing or refusing to provide guidance or counselling, but only if that conduct is based on the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Finally, the amendments protect religious bodies and approved organisations from challenges to the lawfulness of refusing to allow their premises to be used in connection with a same-sex marriage. This applies only to premises used for religious purposes, and not to commercial or investment property.
For the interest of members, the relevant provision of the Canadian Civil Marriage Act is set out below:
Freedom of conscience and religion and expression of beliefs
3.1 For greater certainty, no person or organisation shall be deprived of any benefit, or subject to any obligation of sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.