WALES/ENGLAND – Parliamentary Committee welcomes Government review of extension of civil partnerships to opposite sex couples

Family Law Week

Joint Committee on Human Rights publishes report scrutinising Same Sex Marriage Bill


The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published its report scrutinising the provisions of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

The Committee has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will review the extension of civil partnerships to opposite sex couples. The Committee states that it is not convinced by the objections raised by the Government to such an extension. The Committee urges the Government to take into account the potential discrimination that may arise between cohabiting opposite sex couples and civil partners. It notes that the Government evidence concerning the costs of extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples was ambiguous and expects clear and accurate information about such costs.

The Committee considers in detail the position of religious organisations and individual ministers. There are, it believes, clear justifications for the provisions of the Bill which provide for the right of religious organisations to decide whether or not to conduct same sex marriage. The report considers the difference in treatment of the Church in England and the Church in Wales which is, in the Committee’s view, justified.

The Government is asked to reconsider whether it can bring forward amendments to distinguish more clearly in the Bill between the civil and religious implications of marriages in registered religious buildings.

The Committee is broadly satisfied with the protections contained in clause 2(2), 2(5) and 2(6) of the Bill for individual ministers concerning the solemnisation of same sex marriage.

The report considers that the Government should carry out a full review of pension provisions in relation to survivor pension benefit entitlements of same sex married couples and civil partners to ensure that there is no unjustifiable discrimination in pension scheme provisions. In doing so, the Committee calls on the Government to provide precise information about the potential costs of equalising pension rights.

The report can be read here.


SOURCE: Family Law Week

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