Today the Government announced, as part of our commitment to advancing equality for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) people – that religious buildings will be allowed to host civil partnership registrations.
The change, which will be entirely voluntary and will not force any religious group to host civil partnership registrations if they do not wish to do so, is being introduced as part of the Equality Act. It will give same-sex couples who are currently prevented from registering their civil partnership in a religious setting – the chance to do so.
As the Home Secretary says: ‘This Government is committed to both advancing quality for LGB&T people and ensuring religious freedom of religion for people of all faiths -which is why we will be allowing religious organisations to host civil partnership registrations if they choose to do so’.
The government’s LGB&T action plan, which was published last year, included a commitment to look at next steps for civil partnerships, and giving religious organisations the right to host registration is the first stage in that process.
We have also identified a real desire to move forwards to equal civil marriage and parnerships, and will be consulting further as to how legislation can develop, working with all those who have an interest in the area.
Over recent months I have spoken to many LGB&T people and campaign groups, and it quickly became clear that there is a real desire to address the differences between civil marriage and civil partnerships.
I have always been completely clear that equal rights means exactly that – the same rights not different rights.
So I am very, very pleased to be able to announce that we are going to be the fist British government to formally look at what steps can be taken to address this.