Ministers to consult on legalising same-sex marriages
Published: 17th Sep 2011 15:31:59
The government has indicated it is committed to changing the law to allow gay marriage by 2015.
Ministers are to launch a consultation next spring on how to open up civil marriage to same-sex couples ahead of the next general election.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone will outline the plans in a speech to the Lib Dem autumn conference later.
The leadership of both coalition parties back the move but it is likely to anger some Conservative activists.
And gay rights campaigners have urged the government to act immediately, saying existing laws are discriminatory and a consultation is unnecessary.
At the moment, only men and women are permitted to get married while civil partnerships, which became law in 2005, are limited to same-sex couples.
Civil partnerships give same-sex couples the right to the same legal treatment across a range of matters as married couples but the law does not allow such unions to be referred to as marriages.
Ms Featherstone will tell Lib Dem activists - who have long campaigned for reform of the law on marriage - that a public consultation will begin in March 2012 with a view to changing the law ahead of the next general election scheduled for May 2015.
She will also say that the government is determined to listen to "all those who have an interest in the area to understand their views".
I am not convinced that there needs to be any consultation at all”
However, the consultation will not consider whether to allow same-sex couples to have religious marriages or to open up civil partnerships to men and women.
The Lib Dems have long campaigned for reform of the marriage laws, arguing that they are outdated and discriminate against same-sex couples.
Conservative leader David Cameron backed the move while in opposition as part of his modernising drive and the pledge to permit equal marriage was included in the party's 2010 election manifesto.
However, some Conservative MPs and activists are likely to be uncomfortable with the move.
And veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the government had delayed the consultation - which campaigners had expected to start last June.
"I am not convinced that there needs to be any consultation at all," he said. "The ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and should be repealed."
And he said same-sex couples should be allowed to wed in churches and other religious buildings, arguing that some faith organisations had expressly asked to be able to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
He added: "It is an insult to people of faith for the equality minister to rule out any repeal of the ban on religious organisations conducting same-sex marriages."
New rules set to come into force early next year will allow religious premises to hold civil partnership ceremonies. The move is voluntary and religious organisations will not be obliged to do so.
A group of British couples are challenging the existing ban on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships and plan to take the case to the European Court of Justice.
New York became the largest US state to date to legalise gay marriage earlier this year. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington DC.
At 02:02:21 in EntertainmentThe diaries of war poet Siegfried Sassoon are being published online for the first time.
At 01:46:28 in HeadlinesA Sudanese woman who fled to Italy after being spared a death sentence for renouncing Islam has arrived in the US.
At 01:32:14 in WorldBoth camps in Afghanistan's presidential race appear to be wobbling over what was hailed as a landmark agreement to resolve the disputed election. A mammoth audit of every vote cast is lumbering on at a glacial pace. Karen Allen asks if lessons could be learnt from Kenya, where the disputed 2007 vote ended in a unity government.
At 01:27:24 in WorldThe Presidential Palace in the Central African Republic (CAR) - a collection of tired-looking white buildings set around a pot-holed central parade ground - sits on a gentle slope overlooking the centre of the capital, Bangui.
At 01:27:08 in HeadlinesThree Britons, including two children, were killed after their car was involved in a crash with a truck in Croatia, local police have said.
At 01:22:46 in HeadlinesThe exams regulator Ofqual is to collect information on how many private school students receive extra time in exams, compared with state pupils.
At 01:05:45 in SportWhether or not Usain Bolt did get caught out criticising these Commonwealth Games - the reporter insists, the athlete vehemently denies - the subsequent headlines were another indication that life for Bolt is not like that for any other athlete.
At 00:56:51 in HeadlinesInfo
At 00:52:41 in WorldIf there seem to have been a lot of botched executions in the US recently, there have. It turns out that lethal injection - by far the most common method of execution in those states that still practise capital punishment - is also the most likely to go wrong.
At 00:42:52 in SportIt is 28 years since England finished top of a Commonwealth Games medal table yet with three days of competition left in Glasgow they are on course to end Australia's dominance.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Ministers to consult on legalising same-sex marriages [Online] (Updated 17th Sep 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/186708/Ministers-to-consult-on-legalising-same-sex-marriages [Accessed 1st Aug 2014]
News In Other Categories
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
A Sudanese woman who fled to Italy after being spared a death sentence for renouncing Islam has arrived in the US.
Police hunting a man over the stabbing of a children's TV actor have offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and prosecution.
If you want to find out how hard it is to avoid becoming victim of a data breach, just ask the NSA.
The diaries of war poet Siegfried Sassoon are being published online for the first time.
New rules on school closures have come into force across Scotland.