Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Supplementary evidence submitted by Dr. George Strang (MB 118)

Summary: My comments reflect being a Christian and a retired consultant physician with an interest in infectious disease. I practised medicine for 40 years and was a consultant physician for 33 years. I worked in South Africa for 21 years, but have visited other African countries. I shall comment on the Biblical perspective and on the medical aspects of same-sex marriage. In addition I shall make some general comments as a British citizen

1. BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE.

I accept that many members of the government may not hold any faith, but for Christians and for many practitioners of other faiths, same-sex marriage is unacceptable. Historically, Christianity has been responsible for many good features of life in this and other countries as a result of the work of individuals and of organizations. For example:

a) William Wilberforce [1759-1833] and the abolition of legal slavery.

b) Thomas Barnado, [1845-1905] who opened orphanages and whose legacy is the

development of services for children in need.

c) Sir David Brewster, [1781-1868] whose studies on light led to the invention of laser

technology.

d) James Clerk Maxwell, [1831-1879] whose contributions to science involving

electromagnetism contributed to the development of radio, television, computers and

mobile ‘phones.

e) Lord Joseph Lister, [1827-1912] a medical scientist who pioneered sterilization in

surgery.

f) Sir James Young Simpson, [1811-1870] who developed anaesthesia in Britain.

g) The Mothers’ Union [founded in 1896] which is represented in 83 countries with a

membership of 4 million.

The Bible is clear about marriage being the union of a man and a woman.

In Genesis 2: 24 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to

his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ The same union is emphasized by Jesus in

Matthew’s gospel 19:6 ‘So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate’. The Bible records no example of same-sex marriage and in the book of Leviticus18:22, sexual relationships between two men are forbidden, ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable’.

You will appreciate why the union of a man and a woman is what most Christians understand as the only definition of marriage. It is supported by most people worldwide

and the different structure and function of men and women makes the union complementary. The partnership of a same-sex couple cannot be defined as marriage

because of the very different structure and function of men and women. Civil partnership

caters for same-sex couples who wish to be united legally, but it is impossible for them to be united physically or to procreate naturally.

2. MEDICAL FACTS AND CONSIDERATIONS.

I believe that the way in which homosexuality was considered 50 years ago was wrong. However, in the past 30 years, society has been conditioned to accept it, sometimes without due consideration. It is a fact that the homosexual lifestyle is hazardous and potentially life-threatening. The Health Protection Agency website indicates the risks involved in acquiring venereal diseases, including HIV-AIDS. I would like to draw your attention to the following information, available on the HPA website:

a) HIV in the UK: 2012 Report. The following is an extract from the Key Findings:

Men who have sex with men (MSM) are a socially and culturally diverse group, some

of whom may not self-identify as 'gay'.  MSM remain at greatest risk of acquiring HIV

infection within the UK with no evidence of declining infections in this group.’

 

b) Syphilis: one city’s response to the re-emergence of an old public health

threat .’ P ublished in Health Protection Matters Issue 13, Spring 2009, P.26. An account

of Syphilis in Birmingham [ England ] with details from 2002 to mid 2008. The

majority occurred in homosexual and bisexual men.

c) Sexually transmitted infections in men who have sex with men in the UK :

2011 report . [ Please see Annex 1 which contains the key findings , copied

directly from the report . I have marked those of particular concern with a double

asterisk . ]

Th e publications mentioned above are serious from the public health point of view.

Same-sex sexual intercourse is unnatural and therefore it is not surprising that it carries the risk of disease. The cost of this in human suffering and financial cost is considerable.

The risk of re-infection is increased by promiscuity. The rise in impaired susceptibilty of Gonorrhoea to first-line treatment is worrying. It can be argued that the risk would be

no greater for a homosexual couple in a same-sex marriage than it would be in a civil partnership, but if children were to be adopted by such a couple, they would be exposed to the risk of disease. The government proposes to make IVF available for same-sex couples through the NHS, which would complicate matters in terms of health risks and would add considerable expense to an already over-burdened service. Furthermore, the government would be sanctioning potentially dangerous relationships and including them in the definition of marriage, which is not acceptable. Additional problems could arise if a same-sex couple were to seek help through the NHS, if medical staff or adoption agency staff were unwilling on grounds of faith or conscience to assist with surrogate pregnancy or adoption. The above-mentioned medical details are factual and the concerns are real and must be considered.

During the Second Reading of the Same-sex marriage Bill on Feb.5 th ., one of the speakers quoted Peter Tatchell as saying that ‘We are out to turn society upside down’.

I find that very disturbing, particularly as it is the comment of a man reflecting a minority opinion.

3. GENERAL POINTS AS A BRITISH CITIZEN.

a ) Britain has been respected for years around the world, especially in the countries of

The Commonwealth. We fought two World Wars to overcome oppression and

dictatorship. The government’s proposal to redefine marriage and introduce same-sex

marriage will affect millions of people who do not want it and we shall be despised

by millions of people to whom something so unnatural is unacceptable. Diplomatic

relationships and overseas assistance will be compromised.

b ) Recently the trial of three terrorists who had received radical instruction, admitted to

despising’our nation as motivation for their intended bomb attacks . I n the Middle East

and in countries in which Islam is followed, the West is seen as decadent.

c ) I ncreasingly, young people do not know right from wrong and we see increasing

social unrest, trouble in schools and an epidem ic of alcohol related disease. In my

lifetime there has been a deterioration in the standard of service provided in education,

health, transport, industry, postal services, business and banking integrity and sadly in

parliament itself. I can remember a time when the expression mentioned with

particular reference to the stock market ‘My word is my bond’ was taken for granted in

many walks of life. We do not hear it today and the expression ‘Anything goes is

more applicable to much of society. I t is not s urprising that we have a bad reputation

and the government’s proposed legislation w ould make matters worse.

Finally, I would like to quote a passage of scripture from the book of Proverbs in the Bible. The book of Proverbs contains much wisdom and is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Ch.22, v.28 states ‘ Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers’ It is folly to try to redefine marriage , an institution respected for thousands of years. When the Prime Minister says that he supports marriage he should be referring to the union of a man and a woman, because that particular union , if honoured and respected is what our dysfunctional society needs. Same-sex partnerships cannot offer the same quality and stability. It is impossible to predict the consequences of the proposed legislation which is unnecessary, divisive, dangerous and unwanted. I hope and pray that it will be abandoned totally and permanently.

March 2013

ANNEX 1 – KEY FINDINGS OF THE HEALTH PROTECTION AGENCY REPORT: ‘ Sexually transmitted infections in men who have sex with men in the UK : 2011 report .

• In 2010, an estimated 40,000 men who have sex with men (MSM) in the UK

were living with HIV, 26% of whom were unaware of their infection. **

• Overall, one in 20 MSM is living with HIV in the UK , with one in 11 in London . **

• MSM living with a diagnosed HIV infection in the UK can expect a near-normal

life expectancy, particularly if they are diagnosed promptly.

• In 2010, an estimated 3,000 MSM were newly diagnosed with HIV, the highest

annual number ever. They accounted for almost half of all HIV infections

diagnosed in that year. **

• One in four of all MSM and one in three of those aged 15-24, who were

diagnosed in 2010, acquired their infection recently.

• Two per cent of MSM who tested HIV negative at an STI clinic in 2009 were

subsequently diagnosed with the virus at the same STI clinic.

• Out of those diagnosed in 2010, 39% were diagnosed late (CD4 count <350

cells/mm 3 ) and 18% very late (<200). A late diagnosis increases the risk of

dying within a year 10-fold compared to those diagnosed promptly. **

• Diagnoses of Lymphogranuloma venereum rose from 190 in 2009 to 530 in

2010. The majority (84%) were known to have been diagnosed with HIV either

prior to LGV diagnosis or at the time of LGV acquisition. **

• In 2010, a third of gonoccocal isolates from MSM were less susceptible to first-

line treatment ( cefixime ) compared to a quarter of isolates in 2009. **

• More than 51,000 MSM had an HIV test in a STI clinic in 2010, with coverage at

82%. The number of MSM testing covered approximately 7% of the MSM

population in England .

Prepared 13th March 2013