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article imageUK Conservatives say same-sex unions could be called ‘marriage’

By Andrew John     May 4, 2010 in Lifestyle
The traditional enemy of gay rights in Britain, the Conservative Party, has now become the only party seeming to offer marriage to same-sex couples.
But a leading gay-news outlet is not optimistic, and says the party leader is contradicting his party’s own manifesto on the subject.
The party says that, if it is elected to power in Thursday’s general election, it would “consider the case” for civil partnerships between same-sex couples to be “called and classified as marriage.”
The Conservatives – or Tories – have been courting the pink vote recently, with their leader David Cameron calling for inclusivity.
However, it was the Tories who introduced a notorious piece of legislation called Section 28, which outlawed the so-called “promotion” of the gay lifestyle by local authorities, leading to self-censorship during the years the legislation was in force. It was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and in England and Wales in 2003.
Cameron also voted to keep the hated law, but since he has become leader he has been more gay-friendly.
However, cracks have continued to show in his party’s gay credentials. Recently, a Tory candidate for the general election was suspended by Cameron after he said homosexualit was “not normal.”
Last week we reported how an influential party member, Philippa Stroud, believed homosexuality was the work of demons and could be “cured” by prayer. Stround has considerable influence over Tory social policy.
And the party’s shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, entered the fray when he said he thought owners of bed-and-breakfast accommodation ought to be allowed to turn away gay couples; under current law they cannot.
Same-sex couples have been allowed to have civil partnerships since 2005 in Britain, although they cannot officially call the partnership “marriage” and could not until recently hold the ceremony on religious premises or have religious words to accompany it.
Recently, members of the upper legislative chamber, the House of Lords, voted for a change in the law to allow ceremonies to take place on religious premises. Shortly afterwards, some religious oranizations welcomed the move.
And, under the recent Equality Act, couples will be “able to ask to host the events in places of worship, but they are still not allowed to call such unions ‘marriage’ nor use traditional religious vows,” according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Tories have now introduced a “Contract for Equalities,” which makes them the first of the three main political parties in Britain – the other two being Labour and the Liberal Democrats – to “set out an explicit commitment to considering allowing homosexual couples to marry, should they take power after Thursday’s general election,” says the paper.
Tax credits
The document says: “We support civil partnerships and will recognise civil partnerships in the tax system. Our plans to end the couple penalty in the tax credits system and to introduce a new system of flexible parental leave will apply to all couples, regardless of whether they are heterosexual or same sex couples.
“We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”
However, so far they have said only that they will “consider the case” for a law change. Gay campaigners are likely to point to the phrase as weasel words, easily ignored if the party gets into power, and today the large gay-news outlet Pink News is reporting that Cameron is now seeming to contradict the party's pledge.
It quotes Cameron as saying on Sky News: “I am not planning that. I think civil partnerships are an excellent thing because they give gay people the opportunity to form a partnership and have some of the advantages of marriage. I think that is right and I’m very happy to look at how we can take policy forward and I think the debate in the House of Lords about allowing things to happen in churches and all that, that’s a debate we should have, but I think where we are at the moment I think has dealt with one of the great unfairnesses and so we should look to the future cautiously about whether we can build on that.”.
The paper quotes Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, as saying: “The Tory contract for equalities is not worth the paper it’s written on.
“They say they now support LGBT rights, yet their shadow Home Secretary and many candidates have expressed homophobic views on gay rights.”
More about Same-sex marriage, Marriage, Civil partnerhips, House lords, Conservative party
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