After expressing cautious welcome to news of further developments in Government policy concerning religious provision for civil partnerships and full marriage equality, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) expresses disappointment at the lack of any substance in announcements by the Government on Thursday 17th February.
Rev Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of LGCM, said: “I am extremely disappointed, after all the media hype over the weekend, that the reality is that we are no further forward. This Government agreed to uphold the amendment to the Equality Act to allow civil partnerships to be performed by ministers of religion on religious premises when taking up office almost a year ago. Only now are they declaring that they will start consultation on the best way to implement this. Although we accepted that this amendment was a step in the right direction to address the blatant disparity between marriage and civil partnership it is simply not good enough. Even if this amendment was to be in force today there would still exist a form of sexual apartheid which can only be rectified by allowing all couples to choose for themselves if they wish to enter into a marriage or civil partnership regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Professor Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at King’s College London and legal adviser to the Equal Love campaign of which Rev Sharon Ferguson and her partner Franka are the lead same-sex couple, added:
“The Government are moving at a snail’s pace, from ‘considering the case’ for allowing same-sex couples to marry in May, to ‘consulting further’ in February. Why are the Government spending time and money on creating something new, ‘religious civil partnerships’, to be added to ‘civil civil partnerships’? This is not what most religious same-sex couples want. What they want is a legal relationship that is called a marriage, celebrated by a religious institution that is willing to marry same-sex couples, on religious premises, with a religious service as part of the ceremony. Rules and procedures for the celebration of legal marriages by civil registrars and by authorised religious officials already exist for different-sex couples. What most same-sex couples want, whether they are religious or non-religious, is an end to their exclusion from all forms of legal marriage.”
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement calls upon the Government to act swiftly to remedy this straight-forward case of inequality and injustice.