PM called on to remove Catholic discrimination in royal succession

The National Secular Society has written to The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister calling for Parliament to debate the removal of discrimination against Catholics in royal succession.

The Society’s Executive Director wrote welcoming steps towards the removal of the discriminatory primogeniture provisions in respect of the heir to the throne. However, he pointed out that “It is unacceptable that any change in this area could be made without removing the equally inexcusable prohibition on the sovereign marrying a Roman Catholic.”

Mr Porteous Wood continued “If consultation is to take place with Commonwealth leaders over primogeniture, it is unthinkable not to include the question of discrimination against Catholics, and indeed the former Government undertook to do this two years ago.

“The question was discussed during the Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill introduced by Dr Evan Harris. The then Lord Chancellor concluded that debate with the phrase “I shall certainly ensure that soundings are taken among Commonwealth Heads of Government.”

“We call upon you to confront this indefensible discrimination that would be illegal in every other situation by submitting it to the will of Parliament at Westminster. Positive feedback has already been given by senior representatives of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly.

“As all legislation has to be interpreted in the light of the Human Rights Act, the Government may care to seek advice as to whether, as it seems, succession determined free of discrimination on grounds of sex or religion would already be lawful without any legislative changes.”