Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell today welcomed the decision to lift the ban on holding civil partnerships in religious buildings.
“Allowing civil partnership ceremonies to have a religious content and to be held in places of worship is a significant advance for gay and religious freedom. It was petty and authoritarian to ban faith organisations like the Quakers from holding civil partnership ceremonies, when they clearly expressed a wish to do so. The old restrictions forced religious bodies to discriminate against same-sex couples, even when they didn’t want to”, said Mr Tatchell.
However, he hit out at the coalition government’s “spineless” decision not to take this opportunity to open up marriage for LGBT people.
“If the government is only now taking steps to look at allowing gays to marry, it is simply not enough to just talk about it. They could have taken the opportunity to announce a definitive timetable to remove this remaining inequality. To say that the government will “look” at it is tantamount to kicking the issue of gay marriage into the long grass”, said Mr. Tatchell, who coordinates the Equal Love campaign aiming to overturn the ban on gay civil marriage and straight-sex civil partnerships.
“The government could have taken a bold new initiative to ensure that both straight and gay couples have the option of marriage. But by not allowing gays to marry, this government has failed those many LGBT people for whom civil partnerships is just not enough.
“By only looking at what steps could now be taken on marriage equality proposals, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has condemned LGBT people to further years of discrimination.
A poll taken just last year found that 61% of the public (1) believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships,” and in a recent PinkNews.co.uk poll of 800 readers, 98% LGBT people wanted the right to marry.
“Ending sexual orientation discrimination in civil marriage law is an important issue of principle. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. Having separate laws for gay and heterosexual couples is offensive and divisive.
“The Equal Love campaign shall continue pushing for full marriage equality for all people wishing to enter into a civil marriage or civil partnership, regardless of sexuality”, said Mr Tatchell.