Friday, 24 January 2014

Government consultation on civil partnership

The UK Government has published this:

Consultation on the future of civil partnership in England and Wales

…The Government has published a consultation paper on the future of civil partnership in England and Wales. This is the full public consultation required by section 15 the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. The closing date for responses is 17 April 2014.

Reponses can be made online.

The Government will consider responses to the consultation alongside evidence about marriage of same sex couples, civil partnership and possible options for the future.

The consultation document is available as a PDF file or as a word processing file.

Paui Johnson has commented on one aspect of this consultation at the ECHR Sexual Orientation blog:

…The consultation document contains a consideration of the compatibility of maintaining civil partnership only for same-sex couples with the European Convention on Human Rights:

The Government is satisfied that its decision to retain civil partnership for same sex couples only is compatible with the Convention. Even if an opposite sex couple were able to show that the difference in treatment compared to a same sex couple is within the ambit of Article 8, because the ability to form a civil partnership concerns family life, and to show that the treatment is based on a personal characteristic or status, such as sexual orientation, it is the Government’s view that it is within a State’s margin of appreciation to recognise different forms of relationship for same sex and opposite sex couples.

This is an interesting invocation of the margin of appreciation because the Government provide no references to Strasbourg case law to support their claim.

Whilst it is easy to find examples in the Court’s recent case law to support the Government’s argument, it is also easy to find examples that challenge this understanding of the margin of appreciation. For example,..

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 2:48pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

I am rather surprised that no one has added a comment here. If, as I. hope, the Government decides that civil partnerships should continue to be available to same sex couples and be extended to opposite sex couples there are a number of implications for the churches.

Firstly, the Bishops will be able to develop their support of civil partnerships beyond their re-writing of history to an active commendation of them for same sex couples, thus partially making up for the wrongs done over the past years and perhaps enabling those bishops who feel that they can't endorse same sex marriage to at least feel they can offer something positive to their lgbt peoples.

The abolition of civil partnerships for same sex couples would either force everyone into marriage or result in some not entering into faithful and stable relationships. Not everyone wants to 'ape' heterosexual marriages as they see it.

The extension of civil partnerships to heterosexual couples would encourage more stable relationships and provide protection for those who still think that 'living together' is a 'common law marrage' and thus provides protections and rights to the partners. The church may well say that this further undermines the uniqueness of marriage and is against its teachings, but for many people a non religious civil union, devoid of all the marriage 'baggage' would be exactly what was needed for loving and commited relationships to which we are all supposed to be committed.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 27 January 2014 at 2:15pm GMT
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