Keith Taylor and Jean Lambert, the UK’s Green MEPs have today responded in detail to the UK Government’s consultation on its intention to extend marriage to same sex couples.
Keith and Jean, who both sit on the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT rights, firmly believe that marriage should be open to all couples, regardless of gender, sexuality or religious belief as a means of affirming their love and commitment to each other.
In their response, the Green MEPs argue that:
– The Civil Partnership Act, whilst an important first step in extending long-denied legal rights to same-sex couples, fails to extend the cultural, social and religious important many associate with marriage
– It is contradictory for the Government to accept that same-sex couples should receive the same legal rights as opposite sex couples, but continue to deny them access to the institution of marriage
– The proposal to implement a blanket ban on religious marriages between same-sex couples is wrong, and religions should be free to perform same-sex marriages in their place of worship if they wish to do so
The government consultation paper was launched in March 2012, and proposes to allow same-sex couples to marry in a registry office but fails to lift the legal ban on same-sex couples marrying in a religious service. The Home Office has since received over 100,000 responses to its consultation. A poll by leading gay rights group Stonewall shows that four out of five people under 50 support the move to legalise gay marriage, whilst 71 per cent of people support allowing religious institutions to conduct marriages between same-sex couples if they wish to do so .
Keith, Green MEP for the South East of England, said: “I believe that marriage should be open to all couples, regardless of gender, sexuality or religious belief, as a means of affirming their love and commitment to each other. In my response to the government’s consultation I’ve argued that we need full equality and that there shouldn’t be a blanket ban on religious marriages between same sex couples. It’s astonishing that the government is proposing to prevent all religious marriage for same-sex couples, even when a religion wants to be able to conduct these ceremonies. I really hope that the government will take this opportunity to introduce full equality so that all couples who want to are able to commit to marriage.”
Jean, Green MEP for London, said: “All adult couples, regardless of their gender or sexuality, should have the right to marry. For many, marriage is not just about the legal manner in which they are viewed; it is about a deeper, emotional commitment that is shared with friends and family. With this in mind, it is perplexing that this Coalition Government, which professes to be on the side of equality, is seeking to maintain the discriminatory laws that bar same-sex couples from having a religious marriage. Not all couples will choose marriage, but the proposed change to the law is an important signal to those countries seeking to deny equality of treatment with regard to LGBT rights.”