This consultation ran from to
Our consultation on the best way to introduce equal marriage for same sex couples.
We originally consulted on opening up civil marriage to same sex couples. In our response, we made clear that we intended to enable those religious organisations that wish to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies to do so, on a permissive basis only.
Key proposals of the consultation response
The government’s response outlines our intention to bring forward legislation to:
- enable same-sex couples will be able to have a civil marriage ceremony
- enable those religious organisations that wish to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies to do so on a permissive basis only
- provide explicit legal protections for religious organisations that will allow them to continue to operate unhindered within their doctrines and beliefs as they do now
- retain civil partnerships for same-sex couples only
- enable existing civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage if they wish
- enable individuals to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage
The government believes that allowing same-sex couples acces to marriage helps ensure marriage remains a relevant and vibrant institution. It follows a long line of other reforms which have ensured that this important institution is available to an ever-increasing group of people.
No religious organisation will be forced to marry same-sex couples and there will be a ‘quadruple lock’ of protections in the legislation to underpin this.
Key protections for religious organisations
To protect religious organisations, we will:
- make it explicitly clear in the legislation that no religious organisation or individual minister can be compelled to marry same-sex couples or to permit their premises to be used for this purpose
- devise an ‘opt-in’ system where same-sex couples can only marry according to religious rites on religious premises where the governing religious body has expressly consented; and the legislation will make it clear that no law requires any religious organisations to opt in to that system
- amend the Equality Act 2010 so that no discrimination claims can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple or allowing their premises to be used for this purpose
The legislation will not apply to the Church of England (or Church in Wales) so that they will not be able in law to marry same-sex couples and will not be able to opt in to do so without further changes to primary legislation. Therefore, there will be no interference with the Church of England’s Canon law
Original consultation information
The consultation is intended for:
- members of the public, particularly those currently in a marriage or civil partnership or those wishing to legally register their relationship in future
- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organisations
- religious organisations
- local authorities, including registrars who are responsible for conducting civil marriage ceremonies
- organisations with an interest in families and relationships
- comments from all other interested parties are also welcome
Please read the factsheet on the equal marriage proposals to find out more.
You can also read the government response, view the list of organisations that responded and download the original consultation document below.