Bromley Council has been once again threatened with legal action by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone (pictured), over its approach to the issues of the civil partnerships; commonly known as ‘gay marriages’.
At free vote at the outer London council on Monday night, councillors reached a stalemate over whether the local authority should offer ceremonies for gay couples.
Whilst local councils will be required by law to offer the opportunities for gay couples to register their partnership and sign the civil partners register, councils have the choice of whether or not to provide a ceremony to accompany the event.
Most councils across England and Wales will offer ceremonies but a small minority including Bromley have chosen to opt out.
Twenty-one councillors voted in support of ceremonies being offered on council property, whist an equal number voted against the proposal. There were four abstentions that were blamed on the Liberal Democrats Party conference.
Michael Tickner, a Conservative Councillor said during the debate, “We hear a lot about gay rights but you should also take account of straight people’s rights – people who have normal sexual relationships.”
The Mayor of London, in a statement, threatened to take legal action on discrimination grounds if any London borough (including Bromley) does not permit the exchanging of rings and vows between partners at during the civil partnership registration.
Conservative Council leader, Cllr Stephen Carr, said he was not in favour of allowing the ceremonies and he stressed: “I support traditional old-fashioned values.”
Michael Tickner, a fellow Conservative Councillor said during the debate, “We hear a lot about gay rights but you should also take account of straight people’s rights – people who have normal sexual relationships.”
However, George Taylor, who is a member of the Cabinet of the Conservative led authority contradicted the local party line by arguing that the council must offer a service to all tax payers regardless of their personal or religious views. “The freedom of individuals to make their own personal choice about how they live should be paramount without the intervention of nanny state or nanny council. It would be distasteful to be so impolite to homosexual taxpayers in the borough whose activities are completely legal.”
The council’s executive is expected to make a final decision on this issue by October 10th.