The Government has unveiled its plans to allow same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales.
Following a Government consultation, legislation allowing same-sex marriage will be brought forward next year. The proposals are designed to create watertight protections for religious organisations that do not want to conduct same-sex marriages, but will allow them to ‘opt in’ if they so choose.
The plans have been announced following a 13 week consultation, which received a record 228,000 individual responses, as well as a number of petitions. More than half of individual respondents (53%) favoured the introduction of equal marriage.
The Government has also announced that it intends to:
- introduce a process that will allow civil partnerships (now numbering some 50,000) to be converted into a civil marriage; and
- change the law so that individuals can legally change their gender while remaining married - putting an end to the distressing process of having to end a marriage or civil partnership before a full gender recognition certificate can be issued.
Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller, said:
“We will continue to work with faith and other interested groups over the coming months on how best to implement our plans. I now look forward to a free, open and rigorous debate on the legislation, which we will introduce early next year.”