The Equality Network, Scotland’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality charity, has expressed surprise and disappointment at the position taken by the Scottish Government on the future of civil partnership.
The charity was responding to the Scottish Government’s publication today of a consultation paper on possible changes to civil partnership law.
Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said; “We welcome the publication of the consultation paper. But we are surprised and disappointed that the Scottish Government appear to have decided already to oppose equal civil partnership, that is, making civil partnership available to all couples regardless of gender.
“In our view, that is the only option that respects both equality and diversity. We know that a significant minority of mixed-sex and same-sex couples would prefer a civil partnership to a marriage, and at the moment only same-sex couples have that option. Equality means making that available to all.”
The Scottish Government’s consultation paper presents three options. These are:
♦ to keep civil partnership as it is, available only to same-sex couples
♦ to phase it out altogether
♦ or to make it available to all couples regardless of gender
However the paper also says; “The Government is not persuaded that opposite sex civil partnership should be introduced in Scotland”, although the paper does invite views on that position. The paper makes clear that the Scottish Government prefers the first two options.
The Equality Network say they have consulted with hundreds of LGBTI and non-LGBTI people, and there is a clear demand from a significant number of mixed-sex and same-sex couples who would prefer a civil partnership to a marriage.
In that consultation, several hundred people told the Equality Network why they would prefer a civil partnership.
In a typical response, one person wrote: “Marriage comes with many traditions, teachings and connotations that I heavily disagree with. Not wanting to be part of that system means that I will not get married. However, that will mean that I don’t have the same rights as a married person even if everything else about our lives is exactly the same. A civil partnership would allow me to live a better, fairer life without compromising my beliefs and values. It allows me the option of making a formal partnership with my significant other and it being seen as a true partnership.”
An Ipsos MORI opinion poll in 2012, conducted on behalf of the Equality Network, found that 71% of people in Scotland agreed that civil partnership should be opened up to mixed-sex couples.
For more information about Equality Network, click here: