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Proposed consultation on same-sex marriage

05th October 2011

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone announced the spring consultation at the Lib Dem autumn conference saying that it was hoped new laws could be implemented before the planned general election in 2015.

Since the introduction of civil-partnership agreements, as a result of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and enacted on December 5 2005, same-sex couples have had their legal rights recognised in a range of issues similar to those of “married” couples, but English and Welsh law still recognises marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

Gay rights campaigners insist that this alone constitutes a breach of gay and lesbian couples’ human rights and that the law should be repealed.

Further, the consultation will not go as far as to consider the question of allowing same-sex couples to have religious ceremonies or offering civil partnerships to heterosexual couples and this has further angered activists for the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) community.

While ministers have said they are determined to listen to “all those who have an interest in the area to understand their views”, campaigners believe there is nothing to discuss.

Peter Tatchell, long-time gay rights champion and political activist, writes on his website: “Ending sexual orientation discrimination in marriage law is the right thing to do and it has majority public support. There is no reason for the government to delay. According to a 2009 Populous opinion poll, 61% of the public believe that lesbian and gay couples should be allowed to get married.”

When the consultation commences, family lawyers in Chichester, the south of England and all over the UK, along with all interested parties, will be able to put forward their views on the subject.

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