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EHRC guidance on marriage of same sex couples

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published new guidance explaining the changes introduced by the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 and how they relate to equality and human rights law.

The guidance will help organisations understand the law in a simple and clear way and help them avoid falling foul of the new legislation.

The Act makes the marriage of same sex couples lawful in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland both have different legislation covering marriage.

The guidance, produced by the Commission as part of its statutory remit under the Equality Act 2010, provides information about the Act targeted towards a range of groups, including employers, employees and service providers, public authorities, and religious organisations.

The information provided includes explanations that:

  • Commercial service providers cannot treat customers less favourably, for example by refusing to provide services on the basis that the customer is married to or intends to marry a person of the same sex. That would constitute unlawful discrimination.
  • Individuals are free to hold whatever belief they choose on marriage of same sex couples. The expression of those views can be limited, for example where it’s necessary to protect the rights and freedoms of others. Employees will need to be mindful of relevant workplace and professional policies and rules; employers should apply rules and policies consistently with individuals’ civil liberties.
  • Schools must teach the facts about marriage during relevant lessons in an objective, sensitive and professional way, especially where the national curriculum and statutory guidance applies. Schools with a religious character can continue to teach about marriage according to their religious doctrines or ethos.

Contact our specialist family lawyers and therapists

For advice on same sex marriage, civil partnership, or any other family law issue, please contact us on 01483 826 470 or complete our online enquiry form to the right of this page.

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