Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes has said gay couples will be allowed to get married.
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes has said gay couples will be allowed to get married. In an interview on Yoosk.com, the party’s most senior non-minister said Labour’s introduction of civil partnerships was “very welcome” and said there was “absolutely no reason” why, “in Britain in 2010/11”, their shouldn’t be “civil marriage for straight people and gay people, equally”.
“There is a Coalition Agreement that is about making sure that gay people have equality, not just at home but in other countries as well, and that’s always been an issue. There is now a consultation about how we move from the position, a very welcome position of accepting civil partnerships, which, obviously Labour did, and that was very welcome.
“I think, this is, I don’t know the answer because we haven’t had the discussion, but I think that every Liberal Democrat MP will be free to come to their own decision, I don’t think this will be a whipped vote matter, because there are matters of conscience around these issues and I’m keen that we don’t say every single item is a matter of party policy, but I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be able to support what Nick Clegg has said, which is that it will be appropriate in Britain in 2010/11 for there to be the ability to have civil marriage for straight people and gay people, equally.
“That’s different of course from faith ceremonies which are matters for the faith communities, for the Christian church or the Muslim community and they have to decide what recognition they want to give in their faith community to a marriage and that’s a seperate issue but the State, the State ought to give equality, we are, we are half way there, that’s very welcome, I think we should be able to get there in this Parliament.”
Responding to Mr Hughes’s remarks, a spokesman for the Government Equalities Office told Left Foot Forward:
“Last month the government published an ambitious action plan for LGB and T people, which included a commitment to look at possible next steps for civil partnerships. We’re in the process of talking to various groups and individuals with an interest in this area so we can decide on the best way forward.”
The “Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality” document, referenced above, published last month, says of same-sex relationships:
Since the implementation of the Civil Partnership Act in December 2005, over 35,000 couples have formally registered their partnership, gaining vital legal protections where previously they had none. An amendment made to the Equality Act 2010 makes it possible to remove the express prohibition on civil partnerships taking place in religious premises.
We want to talk to those with a key interest in this issue about what the next stage should be for civil partnerships, including how some religious organisations can allow same-sex couples the opportunity to register their relationship in a religious setting if they wish to do so.
Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Nepal, Iceland and most recently Argentina, have all legalised gay marriage.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.