Elaine Smith

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Elaine Smith is the Scottish Labour MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston.

Alternative Medicine

In June 2015, Ms Smith was present at a session of the Public Petitions Committee for the discussion of a petition to the Scottish Government in support of the NHS Centre for Integrative Care (CIC) in Glasgow, and opposing the reluctance of health boards to refer patients to the CIC[1]. The CIC offers therapies including anthroposophic medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy and mistletoe therapy[2]. Ms Smith stated "I am here to support the petition, in which I have a particular interest because my constituents are now being denied access to the centre for integrative care." On homeopathy she stated:

"The reason that NHS Lanarkshire gave for stopping patients accessing the clinic is that homeopathy is scientifically unproven—I think that that issue was touched on in John Wilson's questions. However, the fact that homeopathy works for many people, as Catherine Hughes said, should be a major consideration. It relieves pain and it saves money. Given that a great many people will testify to the effectiveness of homeopathy, alternative therapies and person-centred care, we should say that, yes, the issue is scientifically unproven—but only as yet. Edward Jenner was ridiculed for using cowpox to cure smallpox, but he was proven to be correct."[1]

She later stated that "Even just from a simple money-saving perspective, more alternative therapies such as Bowen therapy should be available on the NHS, not fewer."[1]

Same-Sex Marriage

A June 2013 press release from "Scotland for Marriage" (unverified)[3] quoted Ms Smith as saying:

"The Scottish Government has indicated that they will introduce the legislation before the summer recess.
"The first I heard about the attempt to redefine marriage was prior to last election but I didn't think it would progress for several reasons
"We already have equality in law with civil partnerships and ‘marriage' means one man and one woman.
"Further, many in the gay community had made it clear that this was not an objective and indeed some did not want their relationships defined in any way as marriage.
"I am surprised that it came forward, particularly as none of the main parties had it in their manifesto to introduce it although some did say they would consult.
"As I've always been committed to equality – I looked at this issue with open mindedness and considered whether it was something I should support.
"I came to the conclusion that it's not a matter of equality.
"Civil partnerships provide equality and just because something is not exactly the same doesn't make it unequal.
"Unfortunately, people of faith who speak out against redefining marriage are being treated in a discriminatory manner and being subjected to treatment that amounts to hate crime.
"If you try to defend marriage you are tagged as homophobic and at the very least verbally abused. In some cases it is worse.
"If that happens now, then imagine what will happen after.
"We actually don't have to imagine because we have legal opinion on the matter. Aiden O'Neill QC released a document in which he outlined the potential consequences that could arise.
"For example, a church hires a council owned community centre for a youth group. The church will not conduct same sex marriages and someone complains to the council. Aiden O'Neill says the council would be within their rights to stop giving church access to centre.
"The Government are very keen to point out that they intend to protect churches whose religious belief means that they do not accept redefinition of marriage. In the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament.
"My own instinct is to agree with legal opinion which says that will not be possible. We only need to look to gay adoption to see the consequences.
"The Government assured religious adoption agencies would not be penalised because of this legislation but now the St Margaret's adoption agency is facing closure.
"Freedom of religion is extremely important. No faith group should be obliged to hold same sex marriages.
"Religious marriages are a matter for each church, religious organisation or denomination, not for the Government or Parliament. Religious freedom is guaranteed in law and both the Human Rights Act and the European Convention of Human Rights also protect religious belief.
"I think that is the only way that the Parliament would vote against this – if MSP's realise the consequences. Many signed up to the equal marriage pledge with a but … that churches shouldn't have to carry out gay marriages against their wishes. Their constituents need to persuade those MSP's that this is a very real possibility.
"It is society, religious belief and biology that defines marriage as one man one woman for the pro-creation of children. Once you open it up there are also many problems of redefining legislation and taking away terms like husband and wife.
"I don't doubt that many people who support the redefinition of marriage are doing so from very sincere beliefs that it is a matter of equality.
"I don't agree with them and I think that it will have serious consequences as yet unknown for many people particularly of faith.
"However, I also think it is being supported and promoted by people beyond the gay community who know very well what the consequences will be and have an agenda of undermining organised religion.
"I certainly don't believe that I'm homophobic. I do my best, as most Christians do, to love my neighbour and not to wish harm on anyone. That's fairly fundamental to our beliefs. However, I have no doubt that I will be made to suffer for my views on this issue and by voting against I will undoubtedly be labelled homophobic.
"I do not believe that the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is a matter of discrimination or prejudice against gay people.
"What I do believe is that a redefinition in the law will result in prejudice and discrimination against those who believe that marriage is one man and one woman and in particular against practising Catholics who regard it as a sacrament.
"As a legislator, I intend to vote against this billl for several reasons but the main ones are this:
"I believe it will have far reaching consequences and I believe that I am in tune with the wishes of the majority of my constituents."


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10016&i=91916
  2. http://www.nhsggc.org.uk/patients-and-visitors/main-hospital-sites/gartnavel-campus/nhs-centre-for-integrative-care/nhs-centre-for-integrative-care-therapies/
  3. http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1rks9pf

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