UK: Religious civil partnerships backed by Lords

Ban on church civil partnerships voted down by House of Lords. Next battle: End the ban on same-sex civil marriage

8 March, 2010

LONDON — Tuesday night's vote by the House of Lords to end the ban on religious civil partnerships is "another advance for gay equality and religious freedom," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the LGBT rights group OutRage!

"Allowing faith organisations to make their own decisions on whether to conduct same-sex civil partnerships is the democratic and decent thing to do.

"By banning religious civil partnerships, the current law is denying religious bodies the right to treat gay couples equally. It is forcing them to discriminate, even when many of them do not want to.

"The Quakers, Unitarians, Metropolitan Community Church and liberal synagogues wish to conduct civil partnership ceremonies and should be allowed to do so.

"Following a change in the law, we expect civil partnerships will be conducted by gay-affirmative religions, including the Unitarians and Quakers, and some Anglican churches and liberal synagogues.

"Our next goal is to secure marriage equality, to end the prohibition on lesbian and gay couples having a civil marriage in a registry office. Already, 61% of the British public believe that same-sex couples should be able to have a civil marriage, according to an opinion poll conducted by Populus and published by The Times in June last year.

"The gay rights group OutRage! is planning to challenge the bans on same-sex civil marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships in the European Court of Human Rights. Our aim is full equality for homosexual and heterosexual couples. We hope to file an appeal to the European Court by summer of this year. Already, four couples have agreed to join the legal challenge.

"If we win in the European Court of Human Rights, the government will be required to change the law to allow gay partners to have a civil marriage and to allow heterosexual couples to have a civil partnership. It will ensure, at last, full equality in the laws governing relationship recognition and rights.

"Last month, the Greens became the first and and only political party in Britain to officially support an end to the ban on civil partnerships being conducted in places of worship. Their Spring party conference voted almost unanimously to end the prohibition on religious civil partnerships.

"I may disagree with religion and want a separation of religion from the state, but I still object to religious same-sex couples being denied the option of having a civil partnership in their place of worship. If that is what they want, it is up to them. Exclusions based on faith or sexuality are wrong," said Mr Tatchell. – Issued by OUTRAGE!

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UK: Greens urge - end ban on religious civil partnerships



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