- Equality under the law
As the law stands same-sex couples are banned from getting married, and are instead restricted to the separate and symbolically different ‘Civil Partnership’, an institution that is not available to mixed-sex couples.
Whilst civil partnership offers most – though not all – of the same legal rights and responsibilities as marriage, it does not carry the same social significance and cannot be described as equality.
The existence of a ‘separate but equal’ segregated system of family law deliberately treats same-sex couples as though they are different and inferior, and sends out the wrong message at a time when the Government is seeking to tackle homophobia in society.
We don't want special 'gay rights', we just want equality - the same laws, the same rules, and the same rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as for all other citizens.
Solution: Change the law to allow same-sex marriage and mixed-sex civil partnership.
- Protect and extend freedom of religion and belief
Currently all religious celebrants are banned from conducting same-sex marriages and civil partnerships regardless of their beliefs. This is an unacceptable infringement on the religious freedom of faith groups and same-sex couples of faith.
Many faith and belief groups do want to conduct same-sex marriages, including the Unitarians, the Quakers, the United Reformed Church, Liberal Judaism, Reform Judaism, Humanists, Buddhists, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Open Episcopal Church, and the Pagan Federation. It is wrong that the wishes and rights of these faith and belief groups are ignored, and that same-sex couples are prevented from including their faith in a formal partnership ceremony.
The Equality Network has always argued that no faith groups should be required to conduct same-sex marriages, but religious freedom cuts both ways, and it is wrong for the opponents of equality to seek to impose their views on all other faith groups and the rest of society.
Solution: Legislate to allow faith and belief groups to conduct same-sex marriages and civil partnerships. Allow an opt-out for those faith groups that do not wish to conduct same-sex marriages.
- End the discrimination against transgender people
As the law stands a transgender person cannot obtain a full Gender Recognition certificate if they are married or in a civil partnership. Under the terms of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 transgender people are forced to get divorced or dissolve their civil partnership if they wish to attain legal recognition of their true gender.
It cannot be right that a loving couple should be forced to end their legal partnership against their will simply because the law discriminates against same-sex couples.
Solution: Amend legislation so that transgender people do not have to divorce or dissolve their Civil Partnership in order to obtain a full Gender Recognition.