3/31/2004

Civil Partnership Bill ensures equality says Minister

Equality proposals will mean that same-sex couples in Northern Ireland will be treated in the same way as couples throughout the rest of the UK.

The proposed Civil Partnership Bill, which is published today, will provide for a new legal status for committed same-sex couples who want to formalise their relationship and live their lives in partnership together. A civil partnership registration scheme will be introduced for Northern Ireland alongside schemes for England, Wales and Scotland.

Announcing the Bill, NIO Minister Ian Pearson said: “Last December I launched a period of consultation on the proposals for Civil Registration. In response, we received a wide range of views from individual citizens, political representatives, churches and other organisations.

“Having considered the responses, we have decided to take the proposals forward as part of a UK-wide Bill. The new legislation will introduce Civil Partnerships across the United Kingdom to ensure people who move within the UK enjoy equal rights.

“The Northern Ireland Assembly, on its return, will be free to re-visit these issues and bring forward new legislation if it wishes to do so.”

A report summarising and analysing the responses will be made available on the Office of Law Reform website: www.olrni.gov.uk

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