Earlier this year, we announced our intention to remove the ban in England and Wales on civil partnership registrations being held on religious premises. A consultation document seeking views on the practical changes needed to implement that provision was published on 31 March. We believe that this voluntary provision is a positive step forward for same-sex couples and for religious freedom.
Does the Minister agree that, when it comes to equality before the law, there can be no such thing as “almost equal”? Bearing that in mind, what further steps will the Government take to end the inequality in marriage and civil partnership rights between straight and homosexual couples?
Yes, I agree that “equal rights” means “equal rights”, not “similar rights” or “nearly but not quite as good” rights. Having listened to stakeholders, it is clear that there is a genuine desire among many of them to move forward to equality between marriage and civil partnerships. Over the summer we shall start a discussion with all those with an interest in the matter on how legislation can develop.