Leading Muslims demand mosque gay marriage ban

By Charles Maggs

The government's move to outlaw Church of England (CofE) gay marriages is discriminatory, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has claimed.

Its complaints about the coalition's controversial proposals focus on their failure to explicitly prohibit other faith groups from conducting same-sex marriage services.

Only the Church of England will be subject to a specific legal ban on it carrying out gay marriages – a move proposed by ministers on the grounds it will protect the reform from legal challenge by the European court of human rights.

The MCB wants the same arrangements to apply to British mosques, in order to ensure gay couples cannot take legal action against Mosques refusing to carry them out.

"We find it incredible that while introducing the bill in the House, culture secretary Maria Miller could keep a straight face when offering exemption for the established Church while in the same breath claiming, 'fairness to be at the heart of her proposals'," said MCB secretary-general Farooq Murad.

"It is not just the CofE and Church in Wales who "explicitly" stated strong opposition as Mrs Miller says, the MCB along with most other faith groups also made equally strong representation."

"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."

At the weekend a group of 60 parliamentarians from both Houses of Parliament wrote a letter to the Telegraph claiming the government was "ploughing on regardless" with the bill without a mandate, arguing that the proposal was in neither the Conservatives' nor the Liberal Democrats' manifesto.

There could be more headaches to come on the issue as it is likely to be rejected by the House of Lords.

Over 100 Conservatives are expected to rebel in the Commons, with many arguing Cameron's support for gay marriage is pushing many of the party's grassroots members to leave.