Amended Monday morning
The document includes a copy of the draft regulations which will be laid before parliament shortly.
Download the full document via this link (PDF 776k)
Note The document published at the above link on 2 November was replaced by a revised version on 4 November. The GEO press office has confirmed that this was to correct a minor error.
From the Introduction:
1.1 Following a listening exercise held last year by Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister for Equalities, with a range of faith and lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) groups, the Government announced on 17 February 2011 its intention to remove the legal barrier to civil partnerships being registered on religious premises by implementing section 202 of the Equality Act 2010.
1.2 Making this change will allow those religious organisations that wish to do so to host civil partnership registrations on their religious premises. This voluntary provision is a positive step forward for both LGB rights and religious freedom.
1.3 The Government published a consultation document on 31 March 2011, seeking views on the practical arrangements necessary to implement this change. The consultation ran until June 23 2011. This document provides a summary of the responses received during the consultation.
1.4 1,617 responses to the consultation were received. Of these, 343 responses were on the official pro forma which addressed each question in turn and 1,274 were responses by email or letter. Of those submitting the official pro forma, 145 were from organisations and 198 from individuals.
1.5 All responses were gratefully received and individually considered by the Government Equalities Office.
1.6 A copy of the draft regulations to implement the proposals consulted on is included as part of this document and reflects the many useful and constructive responses received during the consultation period. These regulations will be laid before Parliament shortly so that they are able to come into force by the end of 2011, subject to the will of Parliament…
The official Church of England response to the consultation was reported previously, see Registration of Civil Partnerships in Religious Premises from June.
At that time, the official press release said:
“That means that there needs to be an ‘opting in’ mechanism of the kind that the Government has proposed. In the case of the Church of England that would mean that its churches would not be able to become approved premises for the registration of civil partnerships until and unless the General Synod had first decided as a matter of policy that that should be possible.”
Yesterday the following official Church of England response was issued:
We will study the draft regulations as a matter of urgency to check that they deliver the firm assurances that have been given to us and others that the new arrangements will operate by way of denominational opt-in. If Ministers have delivered what they said they would in terms of genuine religious freedom, we would have no reason to oppose the regulations. The House of Bishops’ statement of July 2005 made it clear that the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register civil partnerships and that remains the position. The Church of England has no intention of allowing Civil Partnerships to be registered in its churches.
The Church of England website has this page: Civil Partnerships.