Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by LGBT Consortium (MB 133)

LGBT Consortium is the largest UK membership body of LGBT groups, organisations and projects. We focus on providing an infrastructure to enable the development and support of LGBT groups, projects and organisations; so they can deliver direct services and campaign for individual rights.

Last year we were approached by Government Equality Office to run a series of consultation events specifically for LGBT people to have their say on the proposed same sex marriage bill. These events were well attended and gave us as an organisation an excellent insight into the general feeling and expectations of a variety of LGBT people and communities as well as our member groups and organisations.

As such we wish to submit the following information and feedback to the Committee to evidence that our Members are in favour of this Bill and of same sex marriage:

· A large proportion of those attending the same sex marriage consultation events across England expressed concerns about how adultery and consummation would be addressed and practically dealt with in relation to the Bill. The general consensus reflected that marriage should be equal for all who could access it and that if certain elements will not applicable to all then they should be applicable to none.

· Most attendees felt strongly that Civil Partnerships should remain available to same sex couples (and also be extended to opposite sex couple too, although we are aware this is not in the Bill)

· Most, if not all, were keen to see same sex marriage being conducted in religious establishments. All those attending could see no reason for selecting which faiths could and could not conduct same sex marriage. It was further agreed that all faith’s right to abstain from conducting same sex marriages without consequence should be protected.

· We would like to highlight that all attendees who voiced their opinions at the consultations agreed that marriage should be equalised to include same sex couples – even if they themselves did not believe they would access the institution.

· There was clear agreement that LGBT people should not face a fee to convert from civil partnerships to marriage if marriage was not available to them at the time of formalising their partnership.

We hope that you will consider our evidence in relation to amending the bill to reflect the needs of the LGBT sector, communities and individuals  

Consortium of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Voluntary and Community Organisations

March 2013

Prepared 13th March 2013