‘Gay marriage a flawed experiment’ - Cookstown TUV conference told

Gay marriage debate
Gay marriage debate

David Smyth of Evangelical Alliance told Saturday’s TUV conference in Cookstown that gay marriage was an “oxymoron” and a social experiment which was untested.

Mr Smyth, one of several guest speakers from outside the party, told members that the change introduced by the coalition government in Westminster would have “profound implications” for society.

And, although the Assembly has blocked the legislation extending to Northern Ireland, the former solicitor said that the Equality Commission had “chosen to publicly back” same-sex marriage, raising the prospect of a legal challenge.

Mr Smyth, who received a large ovation from the crowd, said the term ‘equal marriage’ was misleading and offensive, suggesting that marriage had historically been unequal and discriminatory, adding: “Equality is supposed to go hand in hand with diversity and is not best served by uniformity.”

But Mr Smyth said that there was a need to “hold convictions and compassion in tension”.

Another guest speaker, Farming Life journalist Richard Halleron, said that he had never felt as positive about the prospects for agriculture, adding that farming could be “on the cusp of a golden era”.

Jenny Hamilton of the Orange Community Network explained how it sought to work on behalf of the Orange community on bread and butter problems as well as cultural issues.

And Louise Togneri of Housing Rights NI said that if Stormont chooses not to implement the controversial under-occupancy charge (the ‘bedroom tax’) as part of welfare reform it would cost Stormont about £18 million a year, which would have to be taken from other budgets.