UK to allow same-sex civil unions

Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2005 02:34 pm
The British government announced today that same-sex partners will be able to enter into civil unions starting in December. Under the Civil Partnerships Bill [link to text], passed last year by Parliament, same-sex couples will have the right to form legally binding partnerships and will be entitled to the same tax and pension benefits that married couples have. Starting Dec. 5, couples will be able to register for a civil partnership, which will become official after a 15-day waiting period. "This legislation is going to make a real difference to these couples and it demonstrates the government's commitment to equality and social justice," said Deputy Minister Jacqui Smith.

Britain to Allow Same-Sex Civil Unions

Monday February 21, 2005


LONDON (AP) - Same-sex partners in Britain will be able to enter into civil unions from December, joining gays in parts of Europe and the United States in obtaining many of the rights enjoyed by married people, the government said Monday.

The Civil Partnerships Bill passed by Parliament last year gives same-sex couples the right to form legally binding partnerships and entitles them to some of the same tax and pension rights married couples have.

Starting Dec. 5, couples will be able to notify the register office at their local council that they intend to form civil partnerships. After a 15-day waiting period, they will sign an official partnership document in front of witnesses.

``This legislation is going to make a real difference to these couples and it demonstrates the government's commitment to equality and social justice,'' said Deputy Minister for Women and Equality Jacqui Smith.

``It opens the way to respect, recognition and justice for those who have been denied it for too long.''

The government said some register offices have already started receiving inquiries from same-sex couples.

Separately Monday, the armed services said they will allow same-sex couples with registered partnerships to share family quarters.

``We will be complying with the law. We are obliged to give equal treatment to gay and lesbian partnerships'' under the new act, said Royal Navy spokesman Anton Hanney, adding that same-sex couples in the armed services already enjoy equal pension rights.

The new act does not use the term ``marriage,'' but among other benefits it grants same-sex couples rights to their partners' pensions; gives them next-of-kin status; and exempts them from paying inheritance tax on a partner's home. It also will require partners to provide maintenance for each other and any children in the case of a break-up.

Partners will be able to dissolve the agreement in a form of divorce settlement.

Officials at the Department of Trade and Industry estimate there will be more than 42,000 same-sex partnership agreements in place by 2050.

``This is the moment we fought so hard for,'' said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall. ``At last, lesbian and gay couples can begin to plan their future lives together.''

Nine European Union members allow same-sex partnerships, beginning with Denmark, which legislated for the unions in 1989.

In the United States, more than a dozen states recognize some form of domestic partnerships or civil unions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but 11 states voted in November to ban gay marriage.

On the Net: Civil partnership details
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2005 02:37 pm
And the Royal Navy has become the first branch of the British Armed Forces to actively promote the protection of the civil rights of its homosexual and bisexual members. Navy officials signed the Diversity Champions Programme from the alternative lifestyle equal rights group Stonewall today as well. Homosexuals have been permitted in the UK Armed Forces since 2000, but the Royal Navy is the first to actively promote the rights of homosexual members. The Royal Navy also announced that homosexual couples will be able to apply for accommodation in married quarters by this coming autumn, as long as they have previously registered a civil partnership.

Link to BBC report
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Reply Mon 21 Feb, 2005 10:11 pm
Good for England! I can't but help having the feeling that we Americans are becoming more separated from Europe despite Bush's recent show of claiming to want closer ties with Europe. He has split his own country in two and seems more comfortable regressing to the past than progressing to the future, which will only drive us farther away from Europe.

Bush doesn't seem to understand the need for a balance between freedom and unity, and seems willing to forsake civil rights for majority rule. Perhaps Chirac with point out the wonderful French motto: Freedom, Unity, Brotherhood.

Once again: Good for England!
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