The deadline for responses to the Government's consultation paper on civil partnerships on religious premises is 23rd June 2011 and I would urge any congregation or individual wishing to respond to do so by this date.
It is important, even at this stage in the legislative process, for our views to be heard. I shall be submitting a response on behalf of the General Assembly based on our agreed position and general principles of freedom and equality but others will be most welcome.
I had the opportunity to meet with the civil servant conducting the consultation and we talked about the need to ensure that any proposals are practical and can be easily implemented. I indicated that I thought the cost of registration of £1500 for three years was excessive and that the comparison with secular commercial venues was invidious. We do not have the option of recouping the fee from sales of food and alcohol! Indicating the reality of finance for congregations may be useful in this debate.
I have recently also spoken to Stonewall, the organisation who worked closely with Lord Alli to secure the amendment to the Equality Bill to permit religious premises to be registered for civil partnerships. The support that we, with the Quakers and Liberal Jews, gave to the amendment proved very persuasive to parliamentarians in the free votes on this measure. Hopefully my views will influence their response.
We must ensure that this measure is implemented in a way that is effective and practical for our congregations. It is hoped that registrations can begin later this year.
Respond to the consultation paper
Derek McAuley, Chief Officer
Thursday, 9 June 2011
Religious civil partnership consultation
Derek McAuley, Chief Officer, writes in the latest issue of GA Uni-News: