17/02/2011

Churches 'Opened' To Gay Ceremonies

As part of its commitment to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGB and T) people, the UK Government has announced that religious buildings will be allowed to host civil partnership registrations.

The change - which will be entirely voluntary and will not force any religious group to host civil partnership registrations if they do not wish to do so - is being introduced as part of the Equality Act.

It will give same-sex couples, who are currently prevented from registering their civil partnership in a religious setting, the chance to do so.

The LGB and T action plan, which was published last year, included a commitment to look at next steps for civil partnerships, and giving religious organisations the right to host registrations is the first stage in that process.
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Ministers have also identified a desire to move towards equal civil marriage and partnerships, and will be consulting further how legislation can develop, working with all those who have an interest in the area.

Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May said: "This government is committed to both advancing equality for LGB and T people and ensuring freedom of religion for people of all faiths, which is why we will be allowing religious organisations to host civil partnership registrations if they choose to do so.

"No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward."

The Minister for Equalities Lynne Featherstone said: "Over the past few months I've spoken to a lot of LGB and T people and campaign groups, and it quickly became clear that there is a real desire to address the differences between civil marriage and civil partnerships.

"I'm delighted to announce that we are going to be the first British government to formally look at what steps can be taken to address this."

(BMcC/GK)

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