EXCLUSIVE: Religious venues to be allowed for civil partnership conversions
The government will soon announce plans for civil partnership conversion
in England and Wales, which will still take place later this year, and now include the provision to allow a conversion ceremony to take place with a registrar at venues other than register offices including churches, synagogues, meeting houses and other registered venues.
Some couples already in civil partnerships were upset earlier this year as the original announcement by then Equalities Minister Sajid Javid meant the only conversion option was to attend a register office, and did not allow for a conversion ceremony to take place at other venues, such as religious buildings or hotels.
A senior government source close to the Education Secretary told PinkNews that the deadline the department is working towards remains as 10 December 2014.
The new plans, which will be announced later today or tomorrow, will address two issues, and the regulations for conversion ceremonies have been altered to allow venues other than just register offices.
Couples will be given the choice of either a simple register office conversion, as per the original plans announced earlier this year, or a two-stage conversion ceremony at a venue of your choosing, conducted by a superintendent registrar.
Despite that a registrar has to be present to conduct the conversion, but it would allow couples to mark the event at religious venues, hotels, or other venues of their choosing alongside a ceremony, religious or otherwise. Couples will still have to attend a register office, but not on the day of their conversion ceremony.
The reason a conversion ceremony cannot be conducted by a religious figure at a religious venue is because the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage is not covered by the “quadruple lock” included in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which protects the Church of England and other religious organisations from being forced to perform same-sex marriages if they do not opt-in to do so.