Stonewall today warmly welcomed confirmation that the Government will implement the ‘Alli amendment’ which will permit the celebration of civil partnerships in religious buildings for the first time. The cross-party amendment to the Equality Act was supported in the House of Lords by a majority of 74. ‘We’re delighted that both parties in the new government have committed to introducing this important measure of religious freedom for those denominations wishing to celebrate civil partnerships,’ said Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill.
The Government will now consult on the practical arrangements for those denominations – including the Quakers, Liberal Judaism and the Unitarian Church – who have said they wish to celebrate civil partnerships on their premises.
Stonewall expressed disappointment that the Government is not yet starting consultation on the extension of marriage to gay people. ‘Stonewall fully supports extension of the legal form of marriage to lesbian and gay couples,’ said Ben Summerskill. ‘We’re told that this will undermine the nature of marriage. However there’s no evidence that, if marriage is available to gay people, a single heterosexual will end up choosing to marry someone of the same sex, either by design or by accident.’
‘If there’s a genuine commitment to making progress in this area, it is painfully slow. Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has explicitly said she would consult on proposals the government intends to implement in the lifetime of this parliament. If that is to happen by 2015, then consultation should begin now.'
1) The Lord Alli amendment to the Equality Bill, to permit civil partnerships in religious premises, was passed in March 2010 by a majority of 74 votes. Crossbencher Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, Conservative Baroness Noakes and LibDem Baroness Neuberger supported Lord Alli’s amendment.
2) The law currently bans civil partnership ceremonies on religious premises. The legal form of marriage is currently only available to opposite-sex couples.
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