Friday, 23 September 2011

Government to consult on same-sex civil marriage

CONSERVATIVE Christian groups accused the Government of attempting to “redefine” marriage this week, after it said that it would consult on introducing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Gay-rights campaigners said that the proposals did not go far enough, and should include same-sex religious marriages and civil partnerships between heterosexuals.

The Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, said in a speech to the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Birmingham last Saturday that, in March, the Government would begin “a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same-sex couples”. She said that this would allow it “to make any legislative changes necessary by the end of this Parliament”, in 2015. Ms Feather­stone said that civil partnerships, which were first registered in 2005, were “a welcome first step . . . [but] I believe that to deny one group of people the same opportunities offered to an­other is not only discrimination, but is not fair.”

Peter Tatchell, the gay-rights campaigner, said that it was “perplexing” that the “terms of reference” of the consultation “explicitly exclude same-sex religious marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships”. He said that to deny heterosexual couples the option of a civil partnership was “profoundly unjust”, and that it was “an infringement of religious freedom to dictate to faith organisations that they cannot carry out weddings for same-sex partners”. Read more

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