Christian Concern takes QEII Centre to court in freedom of speech case

3 July 2012

The Government owned Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (QEII) and the Law Society are both to be taken to court after they cancelled a Christian Concern conference which was due to discuss the Government’s proposals to redefine marriage.

A ‘Letter Before Court Action’ was served by solicitors for Christian Concern on the Law Society and on the QEII on 29 June, and was copied to Eric Pickles, the Communities Minister. The letter to the QEII states:

Our client wishes to make a claim against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, acting through the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, in view of your breach of contract on the booking of the above mentioned event. 

“We require a response within 7 days of today’s date, and in the absence of any satisfactory conclusion being reached in connection with our client’s concerns, court action will be commenced.”

Bookings cancelled

Christian Concern had arranged, with the World Congress of Families and others, to host a colloquium on the subject of marriage, and several eminent speakers were booked to appear. The event was entitled ‘One Man, One Woman – Making the case for marriage for the good of society’.

Christian Concern first booked the conference at the Law Society, but was subsequently told that the event was deemed to breach the Society’s ‘diversity policy’. Organisers then booked the QEII, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

However, at 4pm on the day before the event, and after speakers and delegates had made travel plans, the event was cancelled by Chief Executive of the QEII, who similarly claimed that the marriage event breached it’s ‘diversity policies’.

Organisers then had to take last minute steps, under considerable pressure and expense, to ensure that the conference was able to be relocated to another venue, creating considerable disruption to the event.

Christian Concern is claiming for breach of contract, as well as claiming for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, in relation to the religious beliefs held by Christian Concern concerning marriage.

Some groups ‘more equal than others’

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:

“In this brave new world dominated by an ‘equality and diversity’ culture, some groups seem to be more equal than others. Indeed, dare to challenge the new political orthodoxy and you’re left out in the cold and branded hateful and phobic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their treatment of us is more akin to life in a totalitarian state, not the Britain that has historically led the world in promoting freedom.

“The Conference supported the legal definition of marriage, as do 70% of the British public according to a recent ComRes poll.  The implication of the decision to cancel this booking is that belief in marriage between a man and a woman is offensive and that those who hold such an opinion have to be treated less favourably as a result.  

“There is no justification in contract, or in law generally, for the Law Society or the QEII Centre to hold this position, and their termination of their contracts with Christian Concern is a breach of the terms of the contract.

“Gay rights’ group Stonewall has recently held its conferences in the Law Society and the QEII Centre attended by Government Ministers. These conferences talk about promoting ‘equality and diversity’. Yet it would seem that neither the Law Society or the QEII Centre extends the same hospitality to Christian groups.”

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