UK Greens call for gay marriage

First UK party to back right of gays to marry

October 11, 2004

LONDON — �The ban on same-sex marriage is discriminatory and must be repealed,� according to the Green Party. It�s MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, are joining the call for marriage equality.

The Greens are the first UK political party to join the campaign for gay civil marriage.

In the run-up to the House of Commons debate on the Civil Partnership Bill (Tuesday 12 October), the Greens say �excluding gay couples from marriage is an affront to democracy and human rights.�

�Denying people the right to marry because of their sexual orientation violates the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that every adult person has a right to marry,� said gay campaigner Peter Tatchell, who recently joined the Green Party.

�The Civil Partnership Bill creates a form of sexual apartheid, with one law for heterosexuals and another for gays. Same-sex couples are excluded from marriage and opposite-sex partners are excluded from civil partnerships. This is not equality. It reinforces and perpetuates discrimination,� he said.

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP (South East) said: "Greens have been at the forefront of the EU's anti-discrimination agenda. As an MEP I have campaigned for the recognition of same-sex marriages across the EU. There is no excuse for the UK maintaining its discriminatory and outdated position."

Jean Lambert, Green MEP (London) added: "The recognition of same-sex marriages is a vital step towards ending legally-sanctioned homophobic discrimination. If MPs are serious about social justice, they must vote to allow gay marriages and end another facet of the UK's institutional homophobia. We should be encouraging stable relationships. Stopping people who want to make a public and lifelong commitment to one another is perverse."

The Greens are the first political party to endorse the Coalition for Marriage Equality � a network of gay and humanist groups who oppose the government�s �second best� Civil Partnership Bill. Among other deficiencies, the Bill denies same-sex partners the same pension rights as married heterosexuals.

The CFME is backed by nearly all non-party political gay groups, including OutRage!, the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association, Queer Youth Alliance and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement � plus the British Humanist Association.

�While the Civil Partnership Bill is a welcome first step, it is not equality and it creates a new form of legislative discrimination,� said Green Party Principle Speaker, Councillor Keith Taylor of Brighton and Hove Council and PPC for Brighton Pavilion.

�It would be far better if the government took a principled stand by ending the inequality inherent in marriage law. Giving lesbian and gay people marriage rights is the ethical thing to do,� he said.

Echoing his view, Darren Johnson, Green London Assembly Member, said: �Britain should follow the example of Belgium and the Netherlands, and open up marriage to everyone. In fact, whether marriage or civil partnership, the option should be open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.�

Highlighting the shortcomings of the Civil Partnership Bill, he continued:

�The government is defending the indefensible. A married heterosexual person can inherit a deceased partner�s full pension, based on the date he or she first began contributions.

�But under the proposed civil partnership scheme a gay partner can only inherit a pension from the date the couple registered their relationship. That is discrimination and it is wrong,� said Mr Johnson.– Outrage!

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