Tag Archives: EQUAL LOVE CAMPAIGN

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EQUAL LOVE IN THE UK


BLOG ARCHIVE FOR EQUAL LOVE STORY IN THE UK

All the news, the couples’ videos and exclusive statements. https://neverblendin.wordpress.com/category/equal-love-articles/  Written by one of the Equal Lovers, David E Watters (Biography below)

PRESS CONTACT INFORMATION
 
 
TELEPHONE: 07800813189
SKYPE: never.blend.in
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David Watters, a graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh, Trinity College of Music, London and the Institute of Education, University of London, has worked internationally within education and Educational Management for more than 20 years.
He has taught extensively within many socially and culturally diverse settings; most recently as a Head of Performing Arts within Further Education.
He is a personal and professional development associate with The Pacific Institute(www.pacificinstitute.co.uk), personal coach, freelance writer and founding member of NBI Associates.
He is a writer on social equality issues, is a key player in the Equal Love Campaign UK and author of the forthcoming book, NEVER BLEND IN which features key voices from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and which aims to inspire and encourage those who may lack self-esteem or who question their validity.
David is currently promoting a youtube campaign“Give ’em Hope”and is asking individuals, couples and groups to make and share videos telling about the benefits of living with personal authenticity.
He has shared a platform with Stuart Milk and Peter Tatchell and is a supporter of 17-24-30, The Trevor Project, Schools Out, The Terrence Higgins Trust, The Albert Kennedy Trust and The Harvey Milk Foundation.
His background in arts and education, combined with a solid understanding of Cognitive Behavioural Strategies, and his passion for Equality Advocacy drive every aspect of his work as a personal development facilitator, motivational speaker and writer.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CONTACT INFORMATION
 
 
TELEPHONE: 07800813189
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EQUAL LOVE – UPDATE 5 Feb 2013


UK MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Well done to all who have supported this equality initiative. The petition has had an undoubted impact. The push for the government consultation on marriage equality began with 8 couples who formed the Equal Love Campaign, coordinated by Peter Tatchell – for more on the early stages of how we took the case to the ECHR and forced the governments hand, look at EQUAL LOVE CAMPAIGN page on FB and the website http://www.equallove.org.uk Thank you to all for taking this cause forward in such an active an effective way. There is still much to be done. The end is not quite in sight and, as far as equality for all in this situation, we must support straight couples who seek the option of Civil Partnerships.

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Support Civil Marriage & Civil Partnership Equality


http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Support_Gay_Marriage_in_the_UK/

Why this is important

The UK’s twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships are unjust discrimination. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law.We urge that both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to gay and heterosexual couples, with no discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The UK government is committed to legalise same-sex civil marriage (not religious marriage) by 2015 but it is refusing to legalise opposite-sex civil partnerships. It currently has a consultation process where it is seeking the views of the public.
The churches have mobilised hundreds of thousands of people to sign a petition against same-sex civil marriages in register offices (which are civil ceremonies that have nothing to do with religion and religious marriages).
We need to counter the government’s and church’s opposition to full equality. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled to equal treatment and protection against discrimination, including the right to marry.
Legalising same -sex marriage is the recognition that LGBT people are of equal worth, equally part of humanity and have the right to the equal validation of their love. The same principle of equality applies in the case of civil partnerships. Heterosexual couples should be able to have a civil partnership if they wish.
By signing this petition, we can let the government know that we want equality in both civil marriage and civil partnership law. Help us send a message for universal equal rights. It’s in your hands.
7,816 signers so far.
Let’s reach 20,000

YOUR EQUAL LOVE DIGEST – DEC 2011 – MARCH 2012 – FROM THE PETER TATCHELL FOUNDATION


 

Local churches should defy Anglican leaders over gay ban

Total ban on civil partnerships is “autocratic and homophobic”

Some Anglicans want to host civil partnerships, the church says no

London – 5 December 2011

“I urge individual priests and their congregations to defy this harsh, intolerant ruling. They should go ahead with same-sex civil partnerships, if they want to. This autocratic decision should be defied. It doesn’t deserve respect or compliance,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

He was commenting on a warning by the Church of England hierarchy that same-sex civil partnerships will be banned in Anglican churches – even after the new regulation comes into effect today, Monday 5 December, allowing religious organisations to conduct civil partnership ceremonies on their premises if they wish to do so.

“Many grassroots Anglicans reject this homophobic ruling by the church leadership. They support hosting same-sex civil partnerships in religious premises. The Church of England top brass is out of touch,” added.

“The Anglican leadership has said the ban will apply unless permission is granted by the General Synod. Given that permission is inconceivable for the foreseeable future, this is an effective total ban.

“There are some local parishes that want to conduct civil partnerships. They’d be happy to host the civil partnership ceremonies of their gay and lesbian congregants. That’s why senior church officials are making this ruling, to pre-empt willing local churches from going ahead with civil partnerships ceremonies.

“The Anglican leadership is acting in a way that is dictatorial and homophobic. It makes the church look mean, nasty and homophobic.

“While no one is suggesting that churches should be forced to conduct civil partnerships against their wishes, local parishes that want to host civil partnerships should be free to do so. If senior Anglicans say they can’t, the individual churches should go ahead anyway,” said Mr Tatchell.

Note:

The Equal Love campaign is working to overturn the UK’s twin legal bans against same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. It currently has a legal case in the European Court of Human Rights. See here:

http://www.petertatchell.net/lgbt_rights/partnerships/equal-love-echr-submission.htm

You can also read the Equal Love critique of the government’s proposals on same-sex marriage, which fall short of equality and will maintain discrimination against both gay and straight couples:

http://petertatchellfoundation.org/partnerships/gay-marriage-plan-sustains-discrimination

Lib Dem Equality Minister opposes equality

Featherstone backs discrimination against heterosexuals & pro-gay religions

London – 8 December 2011

Peter Tatchell, Coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, writes on the Liberal Democrat Voice website:

http://bit.ly/sROR3t

Lib Dems should stick to their principles and urge Lynne not to renege on equality pledge

Bravo to the Liberal Democrat party conference. Two years ago, party members voted overwhelmingly to end the twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. They committed a future Lib Dem government to scrap sexual orientation discrimination in marriage and partnership law. Well done. Thank you

Sadly, the Lib Dem Equality Minister, Lynne Featherstone, apparently with the support of the Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is now actively backing discrimination. She plans to keep unequal laws, contrary to the Lib Dem’s election pledges.

Specifically, Lynne is vowing to retain the prohibition on heterosexual civil partnerships and on religious same-sex marriages by faith organisations that want to conduct them. This is in direct defiance of what her party members voted for: equality.

Nick Clegg has not dissented from her stance. We can only assume that he endorses it.

Lynne is lovely. I like her as a person. However, she has announced a long and unjustified delay in the government’s promised consultation on civil marriage and civil partnership; pre-empting the consultation findings by ruling out straight and religious equality.

She said at the start of this year that the consultation would begin in June. Then she postponed it until October. Now it has been put off until March next year. Why can’t the consultation start now? Despite all our requests, Lynne has failed to explain why this delay is necessary.

I am not persuaded that there needs to be any consultation at all. The ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and should therefore be repealed immediately.

If black or Jewish people had been banned from marriage, the government would act swiftly to ensure marriage equality. There would be no long drawn out consultation period. There would be no appeasement of racists and anti-Semites. Why the double standards?

No other government legislation is being subjected to such prolonged consultation and repeated postponements.

The Scottish government has not hesitated. It’s consultation on marriage and partnership equality is already underway. Why is the UK Equality Minister dragging her feet and delaying her consultation until next spring? It doesn’t make sense.

The Westminster government has promised to legislate marriage equality before the date of the next election, due by May 2015 at the latest. However, the delayed consultation could result in the measure not completing its parliamentary progress in time. Likely resistance by the House of Lords might result in its being timed out. Is this deliberate?

Ending sexual orientation discrimination in marriage law is not only the right thing to do,

it has majority public support. There is, therefore, no reason for the government to delay in bringing forward legislation to end this legal iniquity.

Nearly two-thirds of the public support marriage equality. According to a 2009 Populous opinion poll, 61% of the public say that lesbian and gay couples should be allowed by law to get married:

http://www.populuslimited.com/the-times-the-times-gay-britain-poll-100609.html

Lynne Featherstone’s gay marriage consultation announcement looks like an attempt to head off the Equal Love – www.equallove.org.uk – legal case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

In February, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples filed an application in the ECHR to overturn sexual orientation discrimination in civil marriage and civil partnership law.

Speaking as the appeal coordinator, I can say we are quietly confident that we will win the case – eventually (an ECHR ruling can take four years).

The current UK ban on straight couples having a civil partnership is clear discrimination. Lynne’s commitment to maintain this inequality is both surprising and shocking. It is wrong for her to exclude in advance any discussion about opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples.

I stand for equality and this includes equality for straight people too. It would be wrong for the LGBT community to demand equal rights for ourselves and then ignore or accept the denial of equality to heterosexual people. In a democracy we should all be equal before the law.

There are many heterosexuals who would like a civil partnership. To deny them this option is very unfair – and it is illegal under human rights law. How can a Lib Dem Equality Minister support inequality?

The Netherlands has an equivalent to civil partnerships. Called registered partnerships, they are open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The vast majority of Dutch civil partnerships are heterosexual ones. They are hugely popular and would be equally popular in the UK, if the government allowed straight couples to have them. To deny British heterosexuals the option of a civil partnership is profoundly wrong and unjust.

This is bad enough. However, Lynne has also ruled that her consultation will not consider the option of ending the ban on religious marriages for lesbian and gay couples, even though some faith organisations – such as the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews – have requested that they should be allowed to marry same-sex partners. Lynne says no. She says the ban must stay. This is a violation of religious freedom. While no religious body should be forced to perform same-sex marriages, those that support gay marriage should not be barred by law from doing so.

I appeal to Lynne – and Nick Clegg – to rethink this ill-considered consultation timetable and its pro-discrimination parameters – to both ensure non-discrimination and to avoid an embarrassing defeat in the European Court of Human Rights.

It is outrageous that the Equality Minister wants to maintain the unequal, discriminatory laws that bar gay religious marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. Her stance is not compatible with her professed Liberal Democrat values or with the wishes of the vast majority of Lib Dem party members.

If you share my concerns, I urge you to email Lynne Featherstone via her Equality Office senior officials, Emma Reed: Emma.Reed@geo.gsi.gov.uk and Lucy Phipps: Lucy.Phipps@geo.gsi.gov.uk

Your help could ensure a much needed rethink. Thank you, Peter Tatchell

To sign the Equal Love petition go to: www.equallove.org.uk For more information about Peter Tatchell’s human rights campaigns and to make a donation: www.petertatchell.net

Note: This article was published this week on the Liberal Democrat Voice website:

http://www.libdemvoice.org/the-independent-view-peter-tatchell-writes-lib-dems-should-stick-to-their-principles-and-urge-lynne-not-to-renege-on-equality-pledge-25888.html

Equal love rights for gay and straight

First anniversary of Equal Love appeal to European Court

Cross-party support for marriage & partnership equality is growing

No more stalling – both gay & straight couples deserve equality now

By Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

The Guardian – Comment is Free – London – 2 February 2012 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/02/gay-staight-couples-deserve-equality-now

One year ago today, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples, sponsored by the Equal Love – www.equallove.org.uk – campaign, filed a historic joint appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Their appeal argues that Britain’s twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships amount to illegal discrimination, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The bans violate Articles 8, 12 and 14 – respectively the right to privacy and family life, the right to marry and the right to non-discrimination.

The 31-page application, drafted by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at King’s College London, presents a compelling case. Since there are no significant differences in the rights and responsibilities involved in civil marriages and civil partnerships, there can be no justification for the segregation of gay and straight couples into two mutually exclusive legal systems. It is discrimination based on sexual orientation. For this reason, we are hopeful that when the ECHR eventually delivers a judgement, probably in 2014, it will be in favour of equality.

Soon after the ECHR appeal was filed, the government announced its intention to consult on the issue of same-sex marriage. Mere coincidence? Perhaps. But the government was surely mindful that it will be required to explain to the ECHR its rationale for excluding gay couples from civil marriages and heterosexual couples from civil partnerships. It can now report to the ECHR that it is consulting. This consultation is, however, flawed. It is limited to same-sex marriage.

David Cameron mistakenly calculated that we’ll be satisfied with marriage equality. We won’t. So long as heterosexual couples remain banned from civil partnerships, which is the Prime Minister’s apparent intention, the Equal Love campaign will continue. We believe in straight equality just as passionately as we care about equal rights for lesbians and gay men.

In our estimation, there is a sizeable minority of heterosexual couples who would prefer a civil partnership. They dislike the patriarchal history and language of marriage; viewing civil partnerships as a more modern, egalitarian alternative. In the Netherlands, where civil partnerships are open to both gay and heterosexual couples, two-thirds of civil partners are straight men and women. We could expect a similar take-up by heterosexual couples in Britain, if civil partnerships were open to everyone.

Cameron also miscalculated by ruling out any legalisation of religious same-sex marriages, even by faith organisations, such as the Quakers and Unitarians, who want to conduct them. This is an attack on religious freedom, as well as perpetrating homophobic discrimination. Moreover, given that the government has recently authorised religious same-sex civil partnerships, a continued blanket ban on religious same-sex marriages looks inconsistent and petty.

For all these reasons, the Equal Love campaign is building momentum. The right of gay couples to marry is backed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson and a growing number of Tory MPs, including Chloe Smith, Mike Weatherley and Margot James.

In 2010, the Green Party national conference was the first to vote to end the twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. It was followed by the Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru conferences. Oddly, the Labour conference has declined to vote on the issue; although the GMB, Unison and all 13 Labour MEPs want the twin bans overturned.

The SNP government in Scotland is leading the way, with its public consultation period already concluded; while David Cameron inexplicably postponed the start of his consultation from last summer to next month.

Some people argue: what’s there to consult about? Homophobic discrimination is wrong and should therefore be abolished pronto. Would the government have a long drawn out consultation about repealing racist laws? I doubt it. It would immediately abolish them on the grounds that they were incompatible with a democratic society. Why should homophobic bans be treated any differently?

The public is on our side. A Populus poll in 2009 found that 61% of the public believe: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed. It’s likely that there is similar support for heterosexual civil partnerships.

What’s the government waiting for? The time for equality is now.  Peter Tatchell is the coordinator of the Equal Love campaign

Links:

Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights    http://www.petertatchell.net/campaigns/Equal%20Love/Equal_Love_ECHR_Application_2_Feb.pdf

European Convention on Human Rights http://www.echr.coe.int/NR/rdonlyres/D5CC24A7-DC13-4318-B457-5C9014916D7A/0/CONVENTION_ENG_WEB.pdf

Populus poll http://www.populus.co.uk/uploads/download_pdf-100609-The-Times-The-Times-Gay-Britain-Poll.pdf

Local clergy urged: Defy Anglican civil partnership ban

Banning church civil partnerships is “homophobic and autocratic”

Opposition and delay to women bishops reveals “ugly sexism”

London – 6 February 2012

“Individual priests and their congregations should defy the Church of England’s ban on same-sex civil partnerships in church premises. The ban is homophobic and autocratic. The church hierarchy is behaving like the politbureau of the old Soviet-era Communist Party; imposing its central diktat on local parishes and demanding unquestioning obedience. The ban doesn’t deserve respect or compliance. It should be ignored,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Speaking on the opening day of the General Synod, he also deplored the endless delays in ordaining women bishops which, he said, “reveals an ugly sexism at the heart of the Anglican Communion.”

“The idea that women lack the moral and spiritual capacity to be bishops is an insult to all of female humanity. Many women priests have given exemplary ministry. There is no reason why they cannot offer religious leadership as bishops,” added Mr Tatchell.

“Many grassroots Anglicans support hosting same-sex civil partnerships in religious premises. The Church of England top brass is bigoted and out of touch. They are acting in a way that makes the church look mean, nasty and homophobic.

“While no one is suggesting that churches should be forced to conduct same-sex civil partnerships against their wishes, local parishes that want to host them should be free to do so. If the Anglican hierarchy says they can’t, individual churches should go ahead anyway,” said Mr Tatchell.

Note: The Equal Love campaign is working to overturn the UK’s twin legal bans against same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. It currently has a legal case in the European Court of Human Rights. See here: http://www.petertatchell.net/lgbt_rights/partnerships/equal-love-echr-submission.htm

You can also read the Equal Love critique of the government’s proposals on same-sex marriage, which fall short of equality and will maintain discrimination against both gay and straight couples: http://petertatchellfoundation.org/partnerships/gay-marriage-plan-sustains-discrimination

Valentine’s wish: Equal love rights for gay & straight

First anniversary of Equal Love appeal to European Court of Human Rights

No more stalling – both gay & straight couples deserve love equality

London, UK – 14 February 2012

“Our Valentine’s Day wish is for ‘Equal Love’. We seek love equality. All couples who love each other should be treated equally and without discrimination. This means an end to the twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships,” said Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“Every couple should have the option of a civil marriage or a civil partnership, as they wish. In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law,” he added.

“One year ago this month, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples, sponsored by the Equal Love campaign, filed a historic joint appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).  See here: http://www.petertatchell.net/campaigns/Equal%20Love/Equal_Love_ECHR_Application_2_Feb.pdf

“Their appeal argues that Britain’s twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships amount to illegal discrimination, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The bans violate Articles 8, 12 and 14 – respectively the right to privacy and family life, the right to marry and the right to non-discrimination.

“The 31-page application, drafted by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at King’s College London, presents a compelling case. Since there are no significant differences in the rights and responsibilities involved in civil marriages and civil partnerships, there can be no justification for the segregation of gay and straight couples into two mutually exclusive legal systems. It is discrimination based on sexual orientation. For this reason, we are hopeful that when the ECHR eventually delivers a judgement, probably in 2014, it will be in favour of equality.

“The public is on our side. A Populus poll in 2009 found that 61% of the public believe: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed. A similar level of support for heterosexual civil partnerships is very likely. See here: http://www.populus.co.uk/uploads/download_pdf-100609-The-Times-The-Times-Gay-Britain-Poll.pdf

“Soon after the ECHR appeal was filed in February 2011, the government announced its intention to consult on the issue of same-sex marriage. Mere coincidence? Perhaps. But the government was surely mindful that it will be required to explain to the ECHR its rationale for excluding gay couples from civil marriages and heterosexual couples from civil partnerships. It can now report to the ECHR that it is consulting. This consultation is, however, flawed. It is limited to same-sex marriage.

“David Cameron mistakenly calculated that we’ll be satisfied with civil marriage equality. We won’t. So long as heterosexual couples remain banned from civil partnerships, which is the Prime Minister’s apparent intention, the Equal Love campaign will continue. We believe in straight equality just as passionately as we care about equal rights for lesbians and gay men.

“In our estimation, there is a sizeable minority of heterosexual couples who would prefer a civil partnership. They dislike the patriarchal history and language of marriage; viewing civil partnerships as a more modern, egalitarian alternative. In the Netherlands, where civil partnerships are open to both gay and heterosexual couples, two-thirds of civil partners are straight men and women. We would expect a similar take-up by heterosexual couples in Britain, if civil partnerships were open to everyone.

“David Cameron miscalculated by ruling out any legalisation of religious same-sex marriages, even by faith organisations – such as the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews – who want to conduct them. This is an attack on religious freedom, as well as perpetrating homophobic discrimination. Moreover, given that the government has recently authorised religious same-sex civil partnerships, a continued blanket ban on religious same-sex marriages looks inconsistent and petty.

“Some people argue: what’s there to consult about? In our view, homophobic discrimination is wrong and should therefore be abolished without delay. Would the government have a long drawn out consultation about repealing racist laws? I doubt it. It would immediately abolish them on the grounds that they were incompatible with a democratic society. Why should homophobic bans be treated any differently? ” said Mr Tatchell.

See the Equal Love campaign website here: www.equallove.org.uk

Peter Tatchell outside Buckingham Palace - photographed by David E Watters

‘Coalition for Marriage’ bids to block gay marriage

Campaign backs discrimination, opposes equality

Opposition to marriage equality is “intolerant and out of touch”

London, UK – 20 February 2012

“The Coalition for Marriage is intolerant and out of touch. It’s support  for the ban on gay marriage is homophobic and discrimination,” said  Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation and coordinator of the Equal Love campaign, which seeks the  right of gay couples to have a civil marriage and heterosexual couples  to have a civil partnership: http://equallove.org.uk/

“Coalition members are entitled to believe that same-sex marriages are wrong, but they are not entitled to demand that their opposition to such marriages should be imposed on the rest of society and enforced by law.”

Mr Tatchell was commenting on today’s London launch of the Coalition for Marriage, which is being hosted by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Colin Hart, Director of the right-wing Christian Institute.

“The Coalition for Marriage opposes same-sex marriage; claiming that it wants to defend ‘traditional marriage’ and halt attempts to ‘redefine’ it.

“The coalition is out of touch with public opinion. Most British people now support marriage equality,” added Mr Tatchell.

“A Populus poll in 2009 found that 61% of the public believe: ‘Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.’ Only 33% disagreed. See here:

http://www.populus.co.uk/uploads/download_pdf-100609-The-Times-The-Times-Gay-Britain-Poll.pdf

“The ban on same-sex marriage is discrimination. It violates the democratic principle that everyone should be equal before the law.

“It was recently claimed that 100 Conservative MPs are bidding to veto the government’s commitment to legalise same-sex marriage before the next election. If true, this is evidence that substantial sections of the Tory party still back homophobic discrimination.

“The Equal Love campaign is building political momentum. The right of gay couples to marry is backed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson and a growing number of Tory MPs, including Chloe Smith, Mike Weatherley and Margot James.

“In 2010, the Green Party national conference was the first to vote to end the twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. It was followed by the Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru conferences. Oddly, the Labour conference has declined to vote on the issue; although the GMB, Unison and all 13 Labour MEPs want an end to sexual orientation discrimination in both marriage and partnership law.

“The SNP government in Scotland is leading the way, with its public consultation on marriage equality already concluded; while David Cameron has twice postponed the start of his consultation, from last summer to next month.

“One year ago this month, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples, sponsored by the Equal Love campaign, filed a historic joint appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). See here:

http://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/sites/files/Equal-Love-Application.pdf

“Their appeal argues that Britain’s twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships amount to illegal discrimination, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The bans violate Articles 8, 12 and 14 – respectively the right to privacy and family life, the right to marry and the right to non-discrimination,” said Mr Tatchell.

More information:

Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation

0207 403 1790

Email: peter@PeterTatchellFoundation.org

Website: www.PeterTatchellFoundation.org


How the Tories were won to marriage equality – by Peter Tatchell





London, UK – 13 October 2011

Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love UK campaign, writes:

For many months, the Equal Love campaign has been lobbying the Conservative party and government, and Tory MPs and activists, urging them to support the legalisation of same-sex marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships.

We’ve recently won the government’s commitment to marriage equality, but not to heterosexual civil partnerships. Never mind. We’ll keep fighting for the rights of straight couples until they get equality too.

Below is an article I wrote for Progressive Conscience, a liberal Conservative journal, which was published shortly after the government announced its commitment to marriage equality but before David Cameron’s speech to the recent Conservative party conference.

As you can see, to win over Conservatives we pitched our arguments to appeal to their Conservative values.

We were delighted that David Cameron backed marriage equality in his keynote party conference address.

Indeed, we were surprised, and flattered, that the Prime Minister’s speech echoed very closely the wording of our Equal Love briefings: Gay marriage is a Conservative value.

We said:

“Conservatives rightly encourage and approve loving, stable relationships because enduring care and commitment are good for individuals, families and for the well-being of society as a whole. If marriage is a Conservative value, then same-sex marriage is consistent with this value. Far from undermining marriage, gay marriage strengthens it. Conservatives believe in marriage. They should therefore support same-sex marriage precisely because they are Conservatives.”

Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone is who supporting the Equal Love campaign in the UK, especially the eight couples who have taken their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Together, with your help, we will win. Marriage equality is an unstoppable global trend.

Best wishes, Peter Tatchell, Coordinator of the Equal Love UK campaign

Two wrongs don’t make a right
By Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation

The Progressive Conscience – London, UK – Autumn 2011
http://www.brightblueonline.com/ProgressiveConscience/brightbluesept11.pdf

Marriage is a Conservative value. So why did David Cameron, George Osborne and Theresa May take so long to support the right of lesbian and gay couples to get married?

The government has announced that it will consult on legalising same-sex marriage. But not until March 2012. Why the long delay? The consultation was supposed to start last June.

Moreover, the terms of reference explicitly exclude legalising opposite-sex civil partnerships and same-sex religious marriages by faith organisations that wish to conduct them.

It is odd that the Prime Minister wants to maintain the discriminatory laws that prohibit gay couples from having a religious marriage and heterosexual couples from having a civil partnership. Surely everyone should have a free and equal choice?

While religious bodies should not be forced to marry same-sex couples, those that want to marry gay partners – such as the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism – should be permitted by law to do so.

Many heterosexual couples would like to have a civil partnership, rather than a marriage. Why is David Cameron dictating that they can’t?

The Prime Minister’s proclaimed liberal Conservatism rings hollow when he opposes straight civil partnerships. It’s inconsistent for him to trumpet the western values of liberty and equality, while simultaneously refusing to endorse equality for heterosexual people. Can’t he see the contradiction?

Conservatives rightly encourage and approve loving, stable relationships because enduring care and commitment are good for individuals, families and for the well-being of society as a whole.

Contrary to what the critics say, gay marriage doesn’t undermine marriage, it strengthens it. At a time when large numbers of heterosexuals are cohabitating and not getting married, isn’t it a good thing that many same-sex couples still believe in marriage and want to be part of it?

The elimination of discrimination in marriage law is consistent with modern, liberal Conservatism, and with the Prime Minister’s personal pledge to eradicate homophobia and ensure gay equality.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, understands this. That’s why he wants the law changed to allow same-sex couples to marry. So do Tory MPs Margot James, Mike Weatherley and Chloe Smith. But, sadly, I am not aware of any other Conservative MPs who support marriage equality.

Under the current law, not only are gay couples banned from having a civil marriage in a register office, heterosexuals are banned from having a civil partnership. Two wrongs don’t make a right. In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law. This means that both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to all couples, without discrimination.

Nearly two-thirds of the British people back marriage equality. In June 2009, a Populus opinion poll –  http://tiny.cc/ipsqv – found that 61% of the public agree: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed. We can probably safely assume that a similar poll today would reveal even greater support for gay civil marriages – and for the right of heterosexuals to have a civil partnership.

To challenge the current legal discrimination, eight British couples – four gay and four heterosexual – have filed a joint legal application to the European Court of Human Rights. They are seeking to overturn the twin bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

The eight couples are part of the Equal Love campaign – www.equallove.org.uk – which seeks to open up both civil marriages and civil partnerships to all couples, without discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Prohibiting black people from getting married would provoke uproar and accusations of racism. The prohibition on gay civil marriages should provoke similar outrage, as should the equally reprehensible exclusion of heterosexual couples from civil partnerships.

The bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships create a system of legal segregation, with one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Segregation is incompatible with caring, compassionate Conservatism.

The legal advisor to the eight couples and author of their legal application is Professor Robert Wintemute of the School of Law at Kings College London. Outlining the legal basis of the Equal Love challenge, he said:

“Banning same-sex marriage and different-sex civil partnerships violates Articles 8, 12 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It’s discriminatory and obnoxious, like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups. The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as socially and legally inferior to heterosexual people.”  

Since there is no substantive difference in the rights and responsibilities involved in gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships, there is no justification for having two mutually exclusive and discriminatory systems.

One of the same-sex plaintiffs, Matthew Toresen, explained:

“Scott and I have been together for over 18 years. Our love for each other is as valid as anybody else’s. We want to get married. It seems nonsensical to me that my two brothers are married to the women they love but that Scott and I are denied this social legitimacy and celebration. If the state is going to offer options about how relationships are recognised, these options must be available to all,” he said.

His partner Scott Maloney added:

“Language does matter. Marriage is universally understood as a meaningful commitment. As a gay man, I am expected to pay taxes, obey the laws and, if necessary, defend this country like everybody else. In return, I expect the state to treat me equally,” he said.

One of the opposite-sex plaintiffs, Stephanie Munro said:

“The institution of marriage has never appealed to me and it certainly doesn’t reflect my relationship with Andrew. We’re equal partners and we want to make an official, lifetime commitment to each other. But we don’t want to participate in a marriage system that has patriarchal foundations and rejects same-sex couples. We’d prefer a civil partnership,” she said.

The Greens and Liberal Democrats support reform, as does Labour leader Ed Miliband. The SNP and Plaid Cymru are expected to soon embrace equality. With this emerging cross-party consensus, and the backing of nearly two-thirds of the public, legislating equality would prompt little resistance and generate much goodwill for the Conservatives.

David Cameron should do the right thing by opening up civil marriages and civil partnerships to everyone, without discrimination.

It’s a win-win no-brainer for the Conservative Party. It would cost almost nothing, promote marriage, win the respect of gay and liberal heterosexual voters, and burnish the government’s progressive credentials at a time when it faces widespread criticism over public spending cuts.

Over to you, David.

*    For more information about the Equal Love campaign and to sign the petition:www.equallove.org.uk (sorry, only UK residents can sign).

*    Peter Tatchell’s campaign website: www.petertatchell.net

 

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ARTICLE ARCHIVE – LINKS TO WRITING BY DAVID E. WATTERS


BLOGS: 

Civil Partnerships on Religious Premises Consultation Document


Today, the Government has published a consultation document which seeks your views on how to enable civil partnership registrations on religious premises in England and Wales. The consultation document concerns the implementation of section 202 of the Equality Act 2010, outlines proposals for new arrangements and seeks views from all interested parties. Because this is a permissive provision, religious organisations that do not wish to host civil partnerships will not be required to do so as a result of this change.
The implementation of section 202 of the Equality Act 2010 is the first part of the Government’s work on the next steps for civil partnerships as set out in the document Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality. Having listened to stakeholders it is clear from many that there is a desire to move towards equal civil marriage and partnerships. The Government will consult further on how legislation can develop, working with you and all those who have an interest in this area.

 

Opening date:            31 March 2011

Closing date:             23 June 2011

In February we announced our commitment to enabling civil partnerships to be registered on the religious premises of those faith groups who wished to host them.  This will be done by implementing section 202 of the Equality Act 2010.  This provision removes the legal prohibition on civil partnerships being registered on religious premises, enables regulations to be made setting out the arrangements for these premises to be approved by the local authority and clarifies that there is no obligation on faith groups to have civil partnership registrations on their premises.

Civil partnerships on religious premises: a consultation sets out detailed proposals for this voluntary measure which enhances the freedom of both faith groups and same-sex couples.  The proposals are designed to enable faith groups to opt in, respect the different decision-making structures of different faith groups, minimise the risk of successful legal challenges and be straightforward for local authorities to operate.  The law will make clear that faith groups are not obliged to host civil partnerships.  It would also be unlawful for a civil partnership to be registered on a religious premises that had not been approved for the purpose by the local authority.  That approval will be given only with the approval of the faith group concerned.

We propose a two stage process for enabling civil partnerships to be registered on particular religious premises.  First the faith group concerned will have to consent to this and the consultation document sets out how this could happen.  Then the local authority in whose area the premises is located will have to approve the premises and the consultation document sets out what conditions should apply to the approval.  The registration of civil partnerships would remain secular, despite taking place on religious premises, but a religious service could be held to mark the registration.

This consultation will be of particular interest to:

  • faith groups including religions, denominations and individual independent religious congregations
  • Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) organisations, LGB individuals and their families and friends
  • Local authorities, including registrars and other relevant local authority employees
  • owners and managers of buildings approved for civil marriages and civil partnerships

Comments from other interested parties are also welcome.

If you have any queries on this consultation, please email  civilpartnerships@geo.gsi.gov.uk


The Consultation document can be found on the Government Equalities Office website here:

http://www.equalities.gov.uk/equality_act_2010/civil_partnership_consultation.aspx


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