Gender neutral access to marriage and civil partnership

Back to all Motions

2009 National LGBT Conference
11 November 2009

Conference recognises that civil partnerships provide almost equal rights to marriage under UK law. Conference also recognises that the historical connection of the institution of marriage with organised religion and with the oppression of women means many people welcome the existence of civil partnerships as an alternative legal process.

Conference notes with concern that currently civil partnership is only available to couples of the same legal gender and marriage is only available to couples of mixed legal gender. Conference believes that sam sex marriage should be lawful. The existence of separate and different partnership institutions for same legal gender couples and mixed legal gender couples represents a form of segregation which perpetuates homophobia in society and compounds the notion that same-gender couples are different and by implication inferior to mixed-gender couples. As was recognised during the Black civil rights movement ‘separate but equal’ is not equal at all.

Conference also notes with concern that this current ‘separate but equal’ situation forces couples, where one of the couple has undergone gender reassignment, into a legal nightmare of red tape, financial penalties and humiliation in the court system. This is due to legal gender recognition requiring the end of any existing marriage or civil partnership. In no other type of situation does the Government interfere to deliberately force the break up of legally entered into marriages or civil partnerships. This situation has particularly harmed retired non-trans wives in marriages which have often existed happily for over twenty years. They are suddenly placed in serious financial jeopardy as they have no control over whether their trans partner decides to apply for gender recognition thereby annulling their existing marriage and their associated pension rights.

Conference believes that all loving and committed couples, regardless of their legal genders, should be treated equally under the law and in wider society. Any couple, regardless of their legal gender combination, should be able to freely choose whether to enter into a civil partnership or a marriage. Gender recognition processes should not require any existing marriage or civil partnership to be ended.

Conference welcomes the work being done by the Scottish Equal Marriage Campaign to try to ensure everyone has equal access to freely choose between marriage and civil partnership and an end to the discriminatory requirement for existing marriages and civil partnerships to be ended prior to gender recognition. Conference welcomes that the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee is looking seriously at these important issues.

Conference therefore instructs the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Committee to:

1.Support the Scottish Equal Marriage Campaign in making the case for equal gender-neutral marriage and civil partnership laws;

2.Raise the issue of equal gender-neutral marriage and civil partnerships laws with the National Executive Council and Labour Link;

3.Seek opportunities to instigate and develop, in partnership with other LGBT and transgender organisations and our sister unions, a UK campaign strategy for making the case for equal gender-neutral marriage and civil partnership laws.

In addition, in the area of guests to the celebration – in some areas of the Highlands & Islands, whilst opposite-sex couples can have guests up to the limit allowed, in some areas same-sex couples are asked to limit them to a lower number. This is obviously a discriminatory practice. We further call on the National LGBT Committee to

A.Encourage Branches to challenge this type of discrimination in the workplace;

B.Encourage Branches to send members/activists on diversity training;

C.Encourage and support Branches and members to challenge this practice by ensuring the availability of appropriate information, advice and training.