The UK government has set out detailed proposals enabling civil partnerships to be registered at religious premises of faith groups who wish to host them. They have also opened a consultation on the subject with the deadline of 23/06/2011.
The proposals are occurring as part of the implementation of the 2010 Equality Act. Section 202 of the act removes the legal ban on civil partnerships being registered on religious premises. It enables regulations to be made that establish the arrangements for premises to be approved by the local authority and confirms that there is no obligation on faith groups to have civil partnership registrations on their premises.
The proposals are structured in order to try and avoid legal challenges, as well as being straight forward for local authorities to operate. There will be a two-part process – the faith group will have to consent and the local authority will have to approve the premises. The registration of civil partnerships will not be religious, but a religious service can be held to mark the registration.
In a written statement to parliament Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Equalities Office, said: “The government are committed to advancing equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people and to ensuring freedom of religion or belief for all people. To further both of these aims, the government are committed to removing the legal barrier to civil partnerships being registered on the religious premises of those faith groups who choose to allow this to happen.”
To learn more about the consultation and download it as well as a response form, visit the government’s equalities office website.