Equal marriage – keeping up the pressure

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2013 National LGBT Conference
2 August 2013

Conference notes that there has been significant progress towards equality in marriage and civil partnership but the job is by no means done.

Conference welcomes:

1. The concessions and pledges achieved during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act for England and Wales, including on the reviews of civil partnership and surviving partner pensions;

2. The publication of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, on which Members of the Scottish Parliament are expected to have their first vote in November; and,

3. Reports that a majority of people in Northern Ireland now support equal marriage, despite a private members bill supported by Sinn Fein and the Green Party being blocked by the majority Democratic Unionist Party.

However, Conference expresses its concern about the continuing issue of the spousal veto. One reason for the introduction of same sex marriage was to end the injustice of people have to end their marriage before gaining legal gender recognition. However the final wording of the Act for England and Wales, and the Scottish Bill as published, means that married people will only be granted a full Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) if their spouse consents to the marriage continuing. Without a statutory declaration of consent from their spouse, the Gender Recognition Panel can only issue a married person – who in every other way qualifies for a full GRC – with an Interim Gender Recognition Certificate, which expires within six months.

Conference notes that a survey investigating whether the spousal veto would actually affect transsexual people in marriages and civil partnerships revealed a startlingly high percentage of spouses who attempted to prevent their partner’s transition. 44% of cis spouses had tried to stop their partners from transitioning and 29% had tried to delay divorce proceedings, to effectively prevent legal gender recognition.

Conference calls on the National LGBT Committee to address this issue in its continuing work on equality in marriage and civil partnership.