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Campaigners petition for religious buildings to be allowed to hold civil partnerships

V King Macdona June 10, 2009
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A petition has been launched to amend the Civil Partnership Act to allow ceremonies to take place in religious buildings.

The act, passed in 2004, currently forbids same-sex partnerships in buildings designed for religious purposes and states that they can only take place in a register office or approved premises.

However some faith groups have said they would like to perform civil partnership ceremonies on their premises but are unable to due to the law as it stands.

The online petition, which is on the Downing Street website, already has almost 650 signatures, more than the 500 needed for an official response.

If the petition were to provoke an amendment, churches would have the freedom to decide whether they want to hold same-sex partnership ceremonies.

The campaign, which was started by Andrew Falconer, a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in the Brighton Pavilion area, has received support from the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group and the Brighton Metropolitan Community Church.

Civil partnerships give same-sex couples the same rights as marriage. Yet LGBT people who want to celebrate their partnership in a religious setting have never been able to do so.

Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, which works for gay, lesbian and bisexual affirmation within the Anglican Church, told that his organisation was “totally in support” of the petition and that they were planning to put a link on their website encouraging supporters to add their names to the list.

Changing Attitude’s main goals are working towards the church blessing same-sex partnerships and ordaining LGBT people. Coward said they would be discussing the proposed amendment of the Civil Partnership Act at a meeting of the General Synod this July.

Jonathan Blake, Archbishop of the Open Episcopal Church, also added his support for the petition, saying that the OEC have been pioneers in the fight for equality for gay partners.

He went on to say that ideally, the law should be even more inclusive, not limiting ceremonies to just specifically allocated venues, whether they be religious or secular:

“The hope is that we will have a more international approach in that registrars and religious marriages can go to any setting whatsoever. This, with parity for heterosexual and homosexual couples, would be perfect,” he said.

To sign the petition, click here

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