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Law Society cancels conference debating same-sex marriage

US organisation World Congress of Families (WCF) was due to hold its annual conference at the Law Society HQ in London on 23 May. However the Law Society has recently cancelled the booking, provoking fierce debate on equality issues.
As reported in The Telegraph over the weekend, CEO Desmond Hudson explained that it had come to their attention that the WCF conference agenda ‘sat uncomfortably’ with the Law Society’s diversity & equality policy.
There were concerns that theme of the conference, entitled ‘One Man. One Woman. Making the case for marriage, for the good of society’, could be interpreted as opposing same-sex marriage. Although same-sex marriage in not currently legal in the UK, a consultation on this issue is underway.
WCF, established in 1997, describes itself as a non-religious group. However Christian Concern is a member and major sponsor, and has suggested that the Law Society’s cancellation of the conference ‘is censoring debate on a major change in the law that will inevitably have massive consequences for society’. There have been allegations that the cancellation on the grounds of equality is in itself a ‘misreading of the Equality Act’.
Senior High Court judge Sir Paul Coleridge was due to be the main speaker at the event. As reported in The Telegraph In April, Sir Paul recently established independent charity The Marriage Foundation, hailed as the ‘gold standard for relationships’, Sir Paul has described marriage and family breakdown as ‘one of the most destructive scourges of our time’.
Despite the introduction of Civil Partnerships back in 2004, which (for example) provides same-sex civil partners with the same financial remedies as married partners, there appears to be renewed and growing public support for the traditional institution of marriage.
Aside from Sir Paul Coleridge, The Marriage Foundation counts a number of high profile family judges and lawyers among its patrons and founding supporters. Yet there is no reference on its website to same-sex partners, which begs the question as to whether gay marriage will find support among the senior judiciary during the consultation.

For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: james.maguire@family-law.co.uk or telephone:

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