Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A victory for religious freedom: the civil partnerships amendment

Before we all get submerged in election analysis, let's pause for just one moment to note that the Equality bill passed through the House of Commons yesterday.

In particular, let's celebrate that the bill included the amendment, put forward in the Lords by Waheed Alli, which allows religious groups to register civil partnerships on their premises if they want to.

Next Left has strongly supported this amendment, on grounds of religious freedom. The amendment was initially resisted by Anglican bishops in the Lords, conveniently dropping their attachment to the principle of religious freedom when it came to a question of someone else's religious freedom (e.g., that of Quakers, Liberal Jews, and Unitarians). But opinion within the Church of England was divided, and when it was next debated in the Lords in March, the amendment passed with a large majority. The government then accepted the amendment, but there was still concern that the Conservatives might try to block it in the 'wash-up' period in parliament. David Cameron had publicly opposed the amendment - although with no explanation of why. It is a relief, therefore, that in the event the Conservatives did not try to block the amendment.

A full report on the passage of the amendment can be found at Ekklesia.


Sunder Katwala said...


Really good to hear about this.

Congratulations to the Quakers and to everybody involved from the wide range of faith groups and secular perspectives in launching an effective campaign for Waheed's amendment.

Peter said...

That's great news!