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Come Out for Equal Love
Monday 15 July 6-8pm outside the House of Lords
If you can’t attend, email the Lords via LobbyALord.org
Join us outside the House of Lords as peers vote for the last time on the same-sex marriage Bill. This vote will determine whether or not the Lord’s will allow marriage equality to become law.
This is our big final push for marriage equality.
The London Gay Men’s Chorus and the Big Gay Brass Band will provide music and entertainment. It will be a fab, joyful event.
Rally by the statue of George V in Old Palace Yard, London SW1, opposite the main entrance to the House of Lords. Bring placards and rainbow flags and pink jack flags. [Map]
This rally for equal marriage is supported by a broad coalition of LGBT activists – and our straight allies – plus supporters of all political parties and none.
The Bill is still under threat from filibusters and wrecking amendments. Help us keep up the pressure for equality.
Some people will rally from 12 noon, but the optimal time is 6pm to 8pm
Help us mobilise people by texting, facebooking, tweeting and emailing your friends
If you can’t attend, please email members of the House of Lords in advance.
“The House of Lords debates and votes on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill on Monday 15 July. There is still a chance it could be weakened by amendments from anti-gay peers. We urge supporters of marriage equality to rally outside parliament and to email the Lords,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation and coordinator of the Equal Love campaign, which began the campaign for marriage equality in 2010.
“We are aiming for a massive turnout to show the whole country that we really, truly want equality – and, very importantly, to make sure we aren’t outnumbered by the protests of Christian fundamentalists.
“The 15 July is the last Lords vote. We suspect there may be more last-ditch attempts to derail the legislation.
“After the Lords vote next Monday, the same-sex marriage Bill will then go to the House of Commons for the final vote on 17 July. If it passes then, we will have won equal marriage. Bravo!
“Please join us on 15 July to ensure the Lords know that we want and expect an end the ban on same-sex marriage. Send details of the rally to your friends. Bring them with you on 15 July.
“With your help, we’ll win.
“The religious and political opponents of same-sex marriage are an increasingly small and shrill minority who are out of touch with the tolerant, liberal-minded majority of British people. Their stand against marriage equality fuels homophobia and gives comfort to bigots everywhere.
“They say they’re not homophobic but a person who opposes gay equality is homophobic in the same way that a person who opposes black equality is racist.
“Denying same-sex couples the right to marry disparages and insults their love. It sends the message that LGBT couples are unfit and unworthy,” said Mr Tatchell.
Susheila Juggapah, Campaign Officer of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:
“It is important to have a visible presence for equal rights, to counter protests by anti-gay Christian fundamentalists. They want LGBT people to remain second class citizens, banned by law from marrying the person they love. In contrast to their intolerance, our rally affirms love and equality for everyone.
“We need to keep lobbying the Lords just like we lobbied them on 3 and 4 June. Some church leaders and right-wing peers are still determined to derail the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. They may try to talk it out and may still introduce wrecking amendments.
“Contrary to what the opponents of same-sex marriage claim, marriage equality has one of the highest public approval ratings of any government policy for many years.
“According to a YouGov poll, 71% of the public, including 58% of religious people, believe same-sex couples should be permitted to get married in civil ceremonies in register offices.
YouGov poll (page 5): http://bit.ly/R7Yl5h
“Populus and ICM polls respectively recorded 65% and 62% public support for equal civil marriage.
“The ICM poll found that 57% of people intending to vote Conservative at the next election support marriage equality.
ICM poll (page 32): http://bit.ly/109Pbye
“The legislation seeks to ensure equal marriage rights for all. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law.
“Regardless of whether people agree with homosexuality or matrimony, the ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and should be repealed,” said Ms Juggapah.
Archbishop Jonathan Blake gives his wholehearted support to equal marriage for the LGBT community.
Sharon & Franka were interviewed by ITV News about government plans to allow same sex couples to marry in register offices in England and Wales
A prominent Tory commentator and editor of the Conservative Home website has come out in favour of gay marriage.
Tim Montgomerie has previously been noted for his activities combining religion and politics, having founded the Conservative Christian Fellowship in 1990.
“Our Valentine’s Day wish is for ‘Equal Love’. We seek love equality. All couples who love each other should be treated equally and without discrimination. This means an end to the twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships,” said Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“Every couple should have the option of a civil marriage or a civil partnership, as they wish. In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law,” he added.
“One year ago this month, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples, sponsored by the Equal Love campaign, filed a historic joint appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
“Their appeal argues that Britain’s twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships amount to illegal discrimination, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights. The bans violate Articles 8, 12 and 14 – respectively the right to privacy and family life, the right to marry and the right to non-discrimination.
“The 31-page application, drafted by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at King’s College London, presents a compelling case. Since there are no significant differences in the rights and responsibilities involved in civil marriages and civil partnerships, there can be no justification for the segregation of gay and straight couples into two mutually exclusive legal systems. It is discrimination based on sexual orientation. For this reason, we are hopeful that when the ECHR eventually delivers a judgement, probably in 2014, it will be in favour of equality.
“The public is on our side. A Populus poll in 2009 found that 61% of the public believe: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed. A similar level of support for heterosexual civil partnerships is very likely.
“Soon after the ECHR appeal was filed in February 2011, the government announced its intention to consult on the issue of same-sex marriage. Mere coincidence? Perhaps. But the government was surely mindful that it will be required to explain to the ECHR its rationale for excluding gay couples from civil marriages and heterosexual couples from civil partnerships. It can now report to the ECHR that it is consulting. This consultation is, however, flawed. It is limited to same-sex marriage.
“David Cameron mistakenly calculated that we’ll be satisfied with civil marriage equality. We won’t. So long as heterosexual couples remain banned from civil partnerships, which is the Prime Minister’s apparent intention, the Equal Love campaign will continue. We believe in straight equality just as passionately as we care about equal rights for lesbians and gay men.
“In our estimation, there is a sizeable minority of heterosexual couples who would prefer a civil partnership. They dislike the patriarchal history and language of marriage; viewing civil partnerships as a more modern, egalitarian alternative. In the Netherlands, where civil partnerships are open to both gay and heterosexual couples, two-thirds of civil partners are straight men and women. We would expect a similar take-up by heterosexual couples in Britain, if civil partnerships were open to everyone.
“David Cameron miscalculated by ruling out any legalisation of religious same-sex marriages, even by faith organisations – such as the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews – who want to conduct them. This is an attack on religious freedom, as well as perpetrating homophobic discrimination. Moreover, given that the government has recently authorised religious same-sex civil partnerships, a continued blanket ban on religious same-sex marriages looks inconsistent and petty.
“Some people argue: what’s there to consult about? In our view, homophobic discrimination is wrong and should therefore be abolished without delay. Would the government have a long drawn out consultation about repealing racist laws? I doubt it. It would immediately abolish them on the grounds that they were incompatible with a democratic society. Why should homophobic bans be treated any differently? ” said Mr Tatchell.
“Individual priests and their congregations should defy the Church of England’s ban on same-sex civil partnerships in church premises. The ban is homophobic and autocratic. The church hierarchy is behaving like the politbureau of the old Soviet-era Communist Party; imposing its central diktat on local parishes and demanding unquestioning obedience. The ban doesn’t deserve respect or compliance. It should be ignored,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Speaking on the opening day of the General Synod, he also deplored the endless delays in ordaining women bishops which, he said, “reveals an ugly sexism at the heart of the Anglican Communion.”
“The idea that women lack the moral and spiritual capacity to be bishops is an insult to all of female humanity. Many women priests have given exemplary ministry. There is no reason why they cannot offer religious leadership as bishops,” added Mr Tatchell.
“Many grassroots Anglicans support hosting same-sex civil partnerships in religious premises. The Church of England top brass is bigoted and out of touch. They are acting in a way that makes the church look mean, nasty and homophobic.
“While no one is suggesting that churches should be forced to conduct same-sex civil partnerships against their wishes, local parishes that want to host them should be free to do so. If the Anglican hierarchy says they can’t, individual churches should go ahead anyway,” said Mr Tatchell.
“The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has condemned the UK government over its plans to legalise same-sex civil marriage; insinuating that it is behaving in a dictatorial manner. But he is the real dictator. Dr Sentamu wants to impose his personal opposition to gay marriage on a society that rejects his demand for homophobic discrimination,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign, which seeks marriage equality.
“The Archbishop is unelected, whereas the government is democratically elected and a clear majority of the public support same-sex civil marriages. See below.
“Dr Sentamu is a religious authoritarian who opposes equality. It is not a loving Christian value to demand legal discrimination against gay couples and to treat them as inferior, second class citizens.
“The government is proposing to legalise same-sex marriages in register offices only. This will not affect churches. The Archbishop has no valid grounds for objecting to civil registrations that will ensure marriage equality for all couples.
“The vast majority of the British people, including many Christians, support the right of same-sex couples to get married. Dr Sentamu is intolerant and out of touch. His stance colludes with homophobia. It brings shame and dishonour to the Church of England.
“The Archbishop’s insulting, disparaging attitude towards lesbian and gay people is evidenced by the way he dismisses loving same-sex civil partnerships as mere friendships.
“His demand to preserve the tradition and history of marriage is very similar to the arguments that were in the past used by the church to justify slavery, colonialism and the denial of votes to women,” said Mr Tatchell.
Westminster Labour MPs urged to back marriage & partnership equality
Brussels – 19 December 2011
“Huge appreciation to the 13 Labour MEPs for unanimously supporting the Equal Love campaign.
“I hope Labour MPs at Westminster will follow the positive example of Labour MEPs in Europe by also opposing sexual orientation discrimination in marriage and partnership law,” said Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
All 13 Labour MEPs have expressed their support for the Equal Love campaign, which seeks to end the twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships.
Photos of Labour MEPs with Equal Love signs. Free use (no charge):
But please use this photo credit: Copyright European Union
Leader of the Labour MEPs, Glenis Willmott said: “I am very proud that all thirteen Labour MEPs unanimously supported this campaign.
“The Labour government brought forward civil partnership legislation and a future government should take this legislation to the next stage.
“Same-sex relationships should be on the same legal basis as opposite-sex relationships across the EU.”
Former East Enders star Michael Cashman MEP combines the roles of the Chair of Labour’s National Executive Committee with jointly co-ordinating the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup. He added:
“Many MEPs from all political groups support equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In the UK, this includes ending the ban on same-sex marriage and different-sex partnerships.
“I am proud of my Labour MEP colleagues. It’s now up to Labour’s Westminster MPs to follow suit,” Michael said.
Responding to the Labour MEPs’ support for the Equal Love campaign, Peter Tatchell said:
“It’s great to have all 13 Labour MEPs backing the campaign for equality. In the European Parliament, they have been steadfast allies and pioneers for LGBT human rights. Political support for our legal case in the European Court of Human Rights is very important and helpful,” he added.
In February 2011, eight British couples – four gay and four straight – filed an application in the European Court of Human Rights, in a bid to secure the right of same-sex couples to have a civil marriage and the right of opposite-sex couples to have a civil partnership.
The Green, Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru party conferences have previously voted to end the ban on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. The Labour Party conference has, so far, not voted on the issue.
Photos of Labour MEPs with Equal Love signs. Free use:
Please use this photo credit: Copyright European Union
One photo shows: Leader of the Labour MEPs Glenis Willmott with Michael Cashman MEP
The group photos shows: (from Left to Right) MEPs Linda McAvan, Brian Simpson, Derek Vaughan, David Martin, Glenis Willmott, Michael Cashman, Arlene McCarthy, Mary Honeyball and Richard Howitt
Peter Tatchell, Coordinator of the Equal Love campaign and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, writes on the Liberal Democrat Voice website:
Lib Dems should stick to their principles and urge Lynne not to renege on equality pledge
Bravo to the Liberal Democrat party conference. Two years ago, party members voted overwhelmingly to end the twin legal bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. They committed a future Lib Dem government to scrap sexual orientation discrimination in marriage and partnership law. Well done. Thank you
Sadly, the Lib Dem Equality Minister, Lynne Featherstone, apparently with the support of the Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is now actively backing discrimination. She plans to keep unequal laws, contrary to the Lib Dem’s election pledges.
Specifically, Lynne is vowing to retain the prohibition on heterosexual civil partnerships and on religious same-sex marriages by faith organisations that want to conduct them. This is in direct defiance of what her party members voted for: equality.
Nick Clegg has not dissented from her stance. We can only assume that he endorses it.
Lynne is lovely. I like her as a person. However, she has announced a long and unjustified delay in the government’s promised consultation on civil marriage and civil partnership; pre-empting the consultation findings by ruling out straight and religious equality.
She said at the start of this year that the consultation would begin in June. Then she postponed it until October. Now it has been put off until March next year. Why can’t the consultation start now? Despite all our requests, Lynne has failed to explain why this delay is necessary.
I am not persuaded that there needs to be any consultation at all. The ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and should therefore be repealed immediately.
If black or Jewish people had been banned from marriage, the government would act swiftly to ensure marriage equality. There would be no long drawn out consultation period. There would be no appeasement of racists and anti-Semites. Why the double standards?
No other government legislation is being subjected to such prolonged consultation and repeated postponements.
The Scottish government has not hesitated. It’s consultation on marriage and partnership equality is already underway. Why is the UK Equality Minister dragging her feet and delaying her consultation until next spring? It doesn’t make sense.
The Westminster government has promised to legislate marriage equality before the date of the next election, due by May 2015 at the latest. However, the delayed consultation could result in the measure not completing its parliamentary progress in time. Likely resistance by the House of Lords might result in its being timed out. Is this deliberate?
Ending sexual orientation discrimination in marriage law is not only the right thing to do,
it has majority public support. There is, therefore, no reason for the government to delay in bringing forward legislation to end this legal iniquity.
Nearly two-thirds of the public support marriage equality. According to a 2009 Populous opinion poll, 61% of the public say that lesbian and gay couples should be allowed by law to get married:
Lynne Featherstone’s gay marriage consultation announcement looks like an attempt to head off the Equal Love – www.equallove.org.uk – legal case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
In February, four gay couples and four heterosexual couples filed an application in the ECHR to overturn sexual orientation discrimination in civil marriage and civil partnership law.
Speaking as the appeal coordinator, I can say we are quietly confident that we will win the case – eventually (an ECHR ruling can take four years).
The current UK ban on straight couples having a civil partnership is clear discrimination. Lynne’s commitment to maintain this inequality is both surprising and shocking. It is wrong for her to exclude in advance any discussion about opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples.
I stand for equality and this includes equality for straight people too. It would be wrong for the LGBT community to demand equal rights for ourselves and then ignore or accept the denial of equality to heterosexual people. In a democracy we should all be equal before the law.
There are many heterosexuals who would like a civil partnership. To deny them this option is very unfair – and it is illegal under human rights law. How can a Lib Dem Equality Minister support inequality?
The Netherlands has an equivalent to civil partnerships. Called registered partnerships, they are open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The vast majority of Dutch civil partnerships are heterosexual ones. They are hugely popular and would be equally popular in the UK, if the government allowed straight couples to have them. To deny British heterosexuals the option of a civil partnership is profoundly wrong and unjust.
This is bad enough. However, Lynne has also ruled that her consultation will not consider the option of ending the ban on religious marriages for lesbian and gay couples, even though some faith organisations – such as the Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews – have requested that they should be allowed to marry same-sex partners. Lynne says no. She says the ban must stay. This is a violation of religious freedom. While no religious body should be forced to perform same-sex marriages, those that support gay marriage should not be barred by law from doing so.
I appeal to Lynne – and Nick Clegg – to rethink this ill-considered consultation timetable and its pro-discrimination parameters – to both ensure non-discrimination and to avoid an embarrassing defeat in the European Court of Human Rights.
It is outrageous that the Equality Minister wants to maintain the unequal, discriminatory laws that bar gay religious marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. Her stance is not compatible with her professed Liberal Democrat values or with the wishes of the vast majority of Lib Dem party members.
If you share my concerns, I urge you to email Lynne Featherstone via her Equality Office senior officials, Emma Reed and Lucy Phipps.
Your help could ensure a much needed rethink. Thank you, Peter Tatchell
Note: This article was published this week on the Liberal Democrat Voice website:
The Church of England has warned its clergy not to register same-sex relationships, following government confirmation that places of worship can host civil partnership ceremonies from next month.
Gay and lesbian couples can, from 5 December, celebrate their big day in religious premises opting into a new scheme. But there is no obligation on religious groups to take part in the initiative.