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March 29, 2017

No time for parliament to debate Bill to extend civil partnerships

On Friday March 24th parliament was scheduled to debate Tim Loughton MP’s Private Members’ Bill to extend civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples.

Sadly, the Bill was scheduled too far down the agenda for parliamentary business and so there was no time to debate it. This is not uncommon with Private Members’ Bills: very few make it into law because they are scheduled for debate on Fridays, when many MPs are away from parliament, and there so many each year that the parliamentary timetable can’t secure debates for every one.

However, we are continuing to explore every avenue available to us to get the change we seek and we can only say a huge thank you to all our supporters who keep contacting their MPs and the government and so keep the pressure up.

March 23, 2017

Mayor Sadiq Khan agrees to meeting with equal civil partnerships campaign

At the London Mayor’s Question Time on 22nd March, Sadiq Khan reiterated his support for the equal civil partnerships campaign and agreed that his Deputy Mayor, Matthew Ryder,would meet representatives of the campaign to discuss how the cause can be taken further forwards in London.

Responding to a question put by Assembly Member Russell regarding how the Mayor intends to make good his commitment, made in November 2016, to take action in support of the campaign for equal civil partnerships should Charles and Rebecca fail in their appeal, Mr Khan said:

“I am supportive of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, passionate about this area…my Deputy Mayor for Social Integration will meet with Member Russell and campaigners to discuss how I might support the campaign going forwards.”

In the early 2000s the London Assembly pioneered unions for same-sex couples with the introduction of a precursor to civil partnerships in the capital. The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign is hopeful that something similar can now be done with mixed-sex civil partnerships.

You can see Mr Khan answering the question here (skip to 2 hours 39 minutes in): https://www.london.gov.uk/mayors-question-time-2017-03-22

March 7, 2017

Women’s Day postcards sent to Justine Greening urging her to back mixed-sex civil partnerships

Close to forty postcards will arrive at the office of the Minister for Equalities Justine Greening tomorrow urging her to use International Women’s Day to kickstart the process of introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships.

The postcards, sent by individual supporters of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, say that introducing mixed-sex civil partnerships would show real intent by the government to create gender parity.

The postcards say:

“The organisers of this year’s International Women’s Day ask everyone to “Be Bold for Change” and take concrete steps to gender parity. One simple change you could do to help thousands of women in the UK is: make civil partnerships available to all couples.

“Many women in mixed-sex relationships do not feel comfortable with marriage because, for them, it carries cultural and patriarchal baggage. Their right to legal and financial protection for their relationship and their family should not be denied. That right should not be denied just because the current law holds that only one union is valid for mixed-sex couples.”

Prominent supporter of the campaign journalist and activist Fiona Millar said:

“Marriage just isn’t for me but I would like to have a simple partnership arrangement that gives the same legal and financial protection that is now available to same sex couples who choose not to marry. Our children are grown up now but I feel it it is very important the law is changed to support younger women and families who maybe don’t realise that their rights are so limited and that the same choices are available to all, regardless of sexuality . It is shocking to me that the government equalities office is opposing a simple move that would bring more equality and security to so many people.”

Pressure on the government to introduce civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples increased last month when the Court of Appeal ruled that the current ban is in breach of the Human Rights Act. Although the court gave the government more time to decide the future of civil partnerships it made it clear that action must be taken soon.

In their ruling, Lord Justice Beatson said: “I do not consider that the discrimination in the status quo can be maintained for long”.

Lord Justice Briggs said. “‘I can well understand the frustration which must be felt by the Appellants and those couples who share their view about marriage, about what they regard as the Government’s slow progress on this issue. Some couples in their position may suffer serious fiscal disadvantage if, for example, one of them dies before they can form a civil partnership.”

There are over three million mixed-sex couples in England and Wales who are in cohabiting relationships. One in three of those couples have children. A petition calling for the introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships has been signed by over 75000 people and the campaign for equal civil partnerships is now backed by MPs from nearly every major political party.