Government announces new regulations for civil partnership conversion including religious venues
As revealed by PinkNews yesterday, the British Government has announced revised regulations for converting civil partnerships to marriage, which include the option of a conversion ceremony in a church, synagogue, meeting house and other 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.
The revised regulations, announced today, set out that couples already in civil partnerships may opt for a simple conversion at a register office, or a two-stage process, which includes a ceremony at a venue of their choice.
The latter allows couples to choose a religious venue, hotel or other venue to host their conversion ceremony. A superintendent registrar must be present for the first part of the conversion, and a religious figure may take over to conduct the rest of the ceremony.
Minister for Skills and Equalities Nick Boles said: “I know how important it is for couples to have the option of marriage available to them. This is the final stage in ensuring every couple has the option to be married.
“This puts couples in control. They have the choice of whether they would like a simple conversion or would prefer to celebrate the occasion with a ceremony.”
The cost for couples wishing to convert to marriage using the simple process, if they entered a civil partnership before 29 March 2014, will be reduced to zero, a reduction of £45.
If couples opt for the two-stage process, the fee will be reduced by the same amount, £45, but will be chargeable “as the procedure will take longer and the superintendent registrar will have to travel to the venue.”
Couples must attend the register office for an identity check in advance of their conversion ceremony, but not necessarily on the same day.
The reason the full 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.
These new regulations only apply to the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage in England and Wales.
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