UK: Opposite-sex civil unions arrive while some gays still wait to marry

Thousands marched for same-sex marriage in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Opposite-sex civil partnerships will be arriving in the UK very soon.

But there are still same-sex couples in Northern Ireland who are still waiting for the legal right to marry.

MPs have voted to agree with amendments to the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths Bill. Queen Elizabeth II will soon give it royal assent.

Civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples arrive in the UK

Women and equalities minister Penny Mordaunt said: ‘This bill will mean opposite sex couples will soon be able to be joined in union through a civil partnership.

‘It is great news for more than three million opposite-sex couples cohabiting in the UK without the protections and benefits that a formalised relationship can bring.

‘Today is a step forward for equality for this government wants to see more people legally joined, in the way they want, with the person they love and we will work towards making sure these partnerships are available to everyone across the UK.’

The bill also introducing measures to formally record a stillborn child born before 24 weeks’ gestation. The bill also gives coroners the power to investigate late-stage stillbirths.

Has Northern Ireland been forgotten by the UK Government? 

Two women waving the rainbow flag at Belfast Pride 2017. Northern Ireland

Same-sex couples can’t legally marry in Northern Ireland. | Photo: Belfast Pride/Facebook

But many LGBTI activists feel Northern Ireland same-sex couples have been forgotten.

Love Equality NI said: ‘Yet again, Northern Ireland left behind by UK Government.

‘[The Government] support recognition for opposite-sex couples in Britain but stand in the way of equal marriage for same-sex couples in Northern Ireland.’

Micky Murray, the Chair of Alliance LGBT, said: ‘Thank goodness for that! Wouldn’t want anyone being discriminated against would we?

‘Also, Penny Mordaunt, there are hundreds of same-sex couples, if not thousands, in Northern Ireland STILL waiting for the right to marry, SIX years after the law was passed in England and Wales.’

Origins of civil partnerships

Civil partnerships were first introduced in the UK as a way for same-sex couples to have some legal rights without the protections or name of marriage.

But then opposite-sex couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Christopher Keidan launched a legal challenge.

They claimed they did not wish to be married as they viewed it as ‘patriarchal’ and ‘sexist’.

Steinfeld said: ‘Personally, we wish to form a civil partnership because that captures the essence of our relationship and values.

‘Civil partnerships are a modern social institution conferring almost identical legal rights and responsibilities as marriage, but without its history and social expectations.

‘We don’t think there is sufficient justification for stopping us or other opposite-sex couples from forming civil partnerships.’

Author: Joe Morgan

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