Civil partnerships on religious premises?
The Equality Act 2010 amends the Civil Partnership Act 2004 so as to remove provisions in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 that prevent all ‘religious premises’ being approved for the registration of civil partnerships.
See here for the wording of the amendment, and also see this earlier article for some explanations of the wording.
At the time these amendments were passed, the Church of England which had earlier issued this statement, then also said, as I reported in the Church Times :
A spokesman for the Archbishops’ Council confirmed on Wednesday that the amendment took account of discussions held with the Govern ment. The Church of England’s con cern, he said, was to ensure that the regulations provided for an opt-in or opt-out at denominational level. The C of E (and other denominations) wanted to be able to nominate a national body to declare a position on this issue, before individual ap plications could be made. This was what the Quakers themselves had done (Comment, 12 March).
The government is now holding consultations with “interested parties” in preparation for implementing such provisions. As a recent Government document [PDF] said:
An amendment made to the Equality Act 2010 makes it possible to remove the express prohibition on civil partnerships taking place in religious premises. We want to talk to those with a key interest in this issue about what the next stage should be for civil partnerships, including how some religious organisations can allow same-sex couples the opportunity to register their relationship in a religious setting if they wish to do so.
The BHA campaigns for full equality in marriage law for same-sex couples. Currently same-sex couples cannot choose to have a civil partnership service in a religious building, and without full equality when humanist weddings are legalised in England and Wales same-sex couples would not be able to form a civil partnership in a service conducted by a humanist celebrant.