Academic speaks out on free speech and treatment of marriage

Apr 15, 2023

Dr James Orr, an Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge University and a renowned commentator on social policy and political philosophy, joined us for an enlightening discussion on protecting rights and laws around free speech.

In 2016, Dr Orr advocated for a Bill of Rights to protect freedom of speech in the UK, ensuring supporters of beliefs like marriage between a man and woman could express their views without being subjected to a judge’s opinion. However, he now advises caution in pursuing such legislation.

He explains that “structural weaknesses” in rights-based legislation can result in a “ranking exercise” where courts must determine if one person’s right to express their belief in real marriage outweighs another’s right not to be offended.

Reflecting on the proposed ban on so-called conversion therapy, Dr Orr warns that the notion of ‘harm’ can be “weaponised” when the word is understood in psychological rather than physical terms.

He also discusses how the cultural shift towards ‘microaggressions’ “removes one of the central pillars of what counts as a crime under English law … guilty intent”. This is also seen with non-crime hate incidents which require no demonstration of a potentially criminal occurrence.

Dr Orr warns that this trend leads to “a suspension of the principles of natural justice,” and objective evidence becoming less important.

According to Dr Orr, the law that recognises same-sex marriage has “very important downstream ramifications”. To address these concerns, Dr Orr suggests emphasising the public good resulting from real marriage.

He objects to policies that incentivise mothers to place their children in care early, describing it as “nothing short of a scandal”. Instead, he proposes promoting stable marriages by making personal tax allowances fully transferable between spouses.

At C4M, we fully support the right to discuss the benefits of real marriage for adults, children, and society as a whole. We also believe that the Government should utilise every tool at its disposal to promote and encourage the most beneficial foundation for future generations – real marriage.