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article imageUK Anglican bishops call for religious same-sex ceremonies

By Andrew John     Feb 23, 2010 in Lifestyle
Anglican bishops have thrown their weight behind calls for same-sex partnerships to be registered and celebrated in religious premises.
Senior bishops in the UK’s upper chamber, the House of Lords, have told The Times that they will support an amendment to the Equality Bill next month, effectively lifting the ban on civil-partnership ceremonies in religious premises.
“The amendment would remove the legislative prohibition on blessings of homosexual couples and open the door to the registration of civil partnerships in churches, synagogues, mosques and all other religious premises.”
We reported earlier today on the only UK political party – the Greens – to have so far made ceremonies on religious premises part of official policy. Although civil partnership have been conducted in the UK since 2005, the law still prohibits religious premises and religious language.
Now, in a letter to The Times, a group of Church of England clerics say that religious denominations should be allowed to register civil partnerships on their premises if they wish.
“It would be up to individual denominations whether to offer civil partnership ceremonies,” reports the newspaper, which continues:
”The Church of England, which along with the wider Anglican Communion is divided over gay ordinations and same-sex blessings, will maintain its official ban. But if the legislative prohibition is lifted, as seems likely, the Church’s own ban is likely to be ignored by some clergy.
“The Lords amendment is expected to be tabled in the next few days by Lord Alli, the Labour peer, who is openly gay. It is likely to be backed by the Conservatives and, significantly, the Bishop of Leicester, the Right Rev. Timothy Stevens, who convenes the 26 bishops in the House.”
Twenty-six bishops, known as the Lords Spiritual, are historically allowed to sit in the House of Lords as of right.
Stonewall, the UK gay-rights lobbby organisation, tells the paper: “We know this is a matter of importance to only a small number of people, but it is important nonetheless. And the amendment makes clear that the celebration of civil partnerships is permissible, not mandatory.”
More about Anglican church, Gay marriage, Same-sex marriage, House lords, Civil partnerships
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