Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Peter Tatchell: 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.

Contribution by Peter Tatchell

London - 3 March 2010

Last 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.

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.

More on Peter Tatchell and the LGBT
rights group Outrage! here.


socialist sam said...

Whilst not the most pressing of problems, this is of course good news. Even the Lords are starting to be in tune with the 21st century.

Paul said...

Quite wrong for Parliament though to legislate what a religion should actually practice. I mean prosecuting nutters calling for homosexuals to be killed is all well and good. Buy why should my local Church (or Synagogue etc) be obliged BY LAW to conduct marriage services for homosexuals? A total imbalance of power here and a victory only for the super state. It's not as though homosexuals can't get married or Churches themselves choose to conduct such services. No need for coercion.

claude said...


The law does NOT oblige your local Church to do anything.
Quite the opposite. It allows those Churches who want to conduct marriage services for same-sex couples to do it.

Like Peter Tatchell wrote in the OP, the old law was "forcing them to discriminate, even when many of them do not want to".

Paul said...

Well I'm not claiming to be an expert on this law. But I fear in fact it may oblige the individual Chapel or whatever to do so as they will risk legal sanction. So why should the government make it like that? It brings us even closer to having a 'religion' that is controlled by the state. Now in theory what Tatchell says is commendable. I've nothing against a Quaker house or whatever conducting a gay wedding of course that's for them. If the new law facilitates this and does nothing more fair enough. However I fear its implications.

Quantum Moon said...

This is disappointingly assimilationist from the man who said:

"The demand was liberation. We wanted to change society, not conform to it. Equal rights within a flawed, unjust system struck us as idiotic. It would mean parity on straight terms, within a pre-­existing framework of institutions and laws devised by and for the heterosexual majority. Equality within their system would involve conformity to their ­values and rules – a formula for gay submission and incorporation, not liberation."