British Queen Mum’s Former Home a Wedding Venue, but Not for Gays

The Queen Mother's former home — Scotland's Castle of Mey — has become a popular wedding venue, but its trustees have decided that only "Christian weddings" will be performed there. It's a position that may be untenable under anti-discrimination laws, according to The Daily Mail:

Queenmum
"The location is being billed as ‘Scotland's latest romantic wedding venue.’ However
gay rights group Outrage described the decision not to hold same sex
civil ceremonies as ‘ridiculous’ given The Queen Mother's well-known
association with gay people – and claimed it appeared to be ‘illegal’
under sexual orientation discrimination. But the Castle of Mey
said its decision was not outside the law as it did not have a wedding
licence – and under the legislation only Christian weddings could be
held there, as ministers or priests were individually licensed to
perform. But it stressed that the trustees had decided it would
not hold civil ceremonies, which include same sex partnerships, or
those of a non-Christian nature…"

Said David Allison spokesman for [gay activist group] Outrage: "This seems even more ridiculous given that The Queen Mother
surrounded herself with gay people – including 'Backstairs' Billy
Tallon (her devoted servant). Doing this at the Queen Mother's old residence is particularly odd. She had no problem with gay people – quite the opposite."

Comments

  1. Steven says

    This doesn’t really seem very shocking. It seems more old English custom than purposeful discrimination. I am delighted to learn how progressive the Queen Mum was, though. That’s awesome.

  2. GregV says

    I`m a little confused by the article since they don`t seem to have stated anything about the gender of the couple in a ceremony but about the religious aspect.
    One should be able to assume, given the statement, that a Christian same sex couple wanting to have a religious wedding there would be able to do so, but that a couple of any gender wanting a strictly civil ceremony or a Jewish or Hindu ceremony will not be allowed.

  3. Sampson says

    @Steven,

    This is to do with Scotland, not England. They have separate legal systems and laws.

    @GregV

    The problem for gay people is that they are barred by legislation from becoming civil partners anywhere that is ‘solely or primarily’ used for religious purposes. This means that in the UK, gay people cannot be ‘married’ or become civil partners in any church, synagogue, temple or any other religious place. This was done to appease religious groups so that the legislation giving gay people almost identical rights to marriage would pass. However, it now means that churches such as the MCC, who have a large proportion of lgbt members, cannot marry their congregation even if they all agree they would like to.

    In all, the civil partnership legislation has been a huge success, but occasionally one comes up against stories like this one that illustrate (or rather highlight) the legislative acrobatics the government undertook to gain support for the Bill.

  4. Darrien says

    It’s one of those situaitons that may change soon. Although the Earl of Caithness (who is one of the Trustees of the Castle of Mey) is a clear opponent of gay rights, one of the other Trustees is a Lib-Dem frontbencher who presumably follows his party’s equality agenda. What’s more, the chair of the Castle Mey trust is Prince Charles and there’s every chance that having stated he wanted to be a ‘defender of faiths’ he’d have problems squaring that with discriminating against Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. Also, he he’s never been particularly anti-gay, so on a lot of levels the Trustees’ position is a massive potential embarrasment.

  5. Sam says

    “This is to do with Scotland, not England. They have separate legal systems and laws”

    Uh … It’s got nothing to do with laws & under Human Rights / Equal Opportunity laws the U.K is the same all over … then on top of British laws you have E.U laws. This is solely to do with the trustees, NOT laws.

  6. Sampson says

    @Sam While the laws you refer to were legislated for in Westminster (the Civil Partership legislation was passed with the permission on the Scottish parliament under the Sewel Convention), it remains true that UK legislation passed for Scotland passes into the canon of Scots law. Any attempt to take legal action against the trustees of Castle May would take place in Scottish courts under Scottish jurisprudence and could (and likely would) be decided on different basis than English laws.

    Trust me, I’m a Scots lawyer. :)

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