The Glasgow-born star of the BBC’s Doctor Who and Torchwood shows spoke out after becoming angered by a series of calls from the church’s leadership for it to drop the plans.
The church has criticised the Government’s plans for a 14-week consultation on whether to change a law that allows gay and lesbian couples to formalise their relationship in a civil partnership ceremony. They are currently unable to marry in a religious service.
Barrowman, 41, who has been in a civil partnership with architect Scott Gill since 2006, told The Herald he was shocked at statements of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Mario Conti, the Archbishop of Glasgow and the Bishop of Paisley, Philip Tartaglia.
Cardinal O’Brien said legalising same-sex marriage would “shame Scotland in the eyes of the world”. He also said the law change would have “huge implications” for society and would represent a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.
However, Barrowman said he was “horrified” church groups were “prepared to ruin lives”. He said: “That’s not being Christian at all. In fact, I think it’s evil. Being gay is not, as they claim, against the laws of nature. I was born this way. And there’s a reason I was born this way. I didn’t decide to wake up gay one morning.
“If two people love each other enough and want to call what they have a ‘marriage’, regardless of their sex, shouldn’t we let them do that?
“Otherwise, we’re in the Dark Ages again.”
The entertainer accused the church leaders of hypocrisy. He added: “I’d like to remind the church many of their own practices were kept a secret for many years and for them to turn round and attack someone who wants to be married is quite incredible. I think they’d be advised to remain quiet.”
Barrowman explained he has suffered personally at the hands of clerical judgment. He added: “If the churches continue down this line they will lose even more congregation members. My parents are a prime example. They don’t go to church anymore, in spite of the fact they attended every Sunday and gave a great deal of money to the church.
“But one Sunday the pastor stood up in church in Florida and said in his sermon that all homosexuals were set to burn in Hell. They decided they wouldn’t go back.”
Cardinal O’Brien’s comments came after Archbishop Conti wrote last week, in a letter to the The Herald, that allowing gay couples to marry in a traditional sense would be pointless as it would not result in the creation of a “natural family”.
He said its supporters, who are said to number around 60% of the Scottish population according to a recent poll, were being “foolish”.
On Monday, Mr Tartaglia said marriage is “an institution which does not owe its existence or rationale to governments or legislatures”. He spoke out after the Government’s announcement that it has begun gathering views on whether same-sex marriage should be made legal.
Currently, same-sex couples can enter a civil partnership which carries full legal rights but the ceremony cannot be conducted in a church or other religious premises.
Barrowman does not claim to be a spokesman for the gay movement but felt he had to speak out. He added: “If the word ‘marriage’ upsets church people so much, then let’s just stick with the unions being described as civil partnerships.”