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Tory MP denies backing use of anti-terror laws against Christian teachers over gay marriage

Mark Spencer said a story in the Daily Telegraph claiming he thought teachers with a faith could be prosecuted for expressing traditional views on same- sex relationships was taken "out of context".

"Their belief of marriage is that it's between a man and a woman, and that's the opinion that they hold, and I would support them to be able to say that.

"In very extreme circumstances, if someone were to start to preach hatred within a school; then clearly you could start to use an EDO (Extremism Disruption Order) there," said Mark Spencer on Premier's News Hour.

The Telegraph newspaper said Mark Spencer wrote to a constituent saying that teachers with a faith who said gay marriage was wrong as a fact rather than opinion could be subject to a restriction order or Extremism Disruption Orders" (EDOs), tough new restrictions planned by David Cameron and Theresa May to curb radicalisation by jihadists.

The MP has since published a copy of the original letter he sent to the constituent on his website.

Mark Spencer

He wrote: "I believe that everybody in society has a right to free speech and to express their views without fear of persecution.

"The EDOs will not serve to limit but rather to guarantee it: it is those who seek to stop other people expressing their beliefs who will be targeted.

"Let me give you an example, one which lots of constituents have been writing about – talking about gay marriage in schools."

He went on to insist that Christians with traditional views on marriage are "perfectly entitled to express their views" but suggests it could constitute "hate speech" in some contexts.

"The new legislation specifically targets hate speech, so teachers will still be free to express their understanding of the term 'marriage', and their moral opposition to its use in some situations without breaking the new laws.

"The EDOs, in this case, would apply to a situation where a teacher was specifically teaching that gay marriage is wrong."

Lister to Mark Spencer speaking to Premier's Des Busteed on Premier's 'News Hour':

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