Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Winter 1990-1991

United Kingdom: Labour Party Shuns Partnership Law

The introduction in Denmark of the legal recognition of lesbian and gay partnerships could soon be followed in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, but hopes that similar legislation might be introduced into Britain will not be raised by a statement from the British Labour Party that it will not even consider the possibility of such legislation “until the age of consent has been resolved”, and after a Labour government has been elected.

GALHA wrote to Roy Hattersley, Labour’s Deputy Leader, in his capacity as co-convenor of the Democracy for the Individual Policy Review Group of the Labour Party, to ask that specific commitments be made. They were:

  1. Legal equality for lesbians and gay men so that there is an equal age of consent for heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and that sexual activities carry the same legal rights and penalties whether homosexual or heterosexual.
  2. Legal recognition for partnerships between members of the same sex as between men and women and the registration of these in the same way and on the same basis as marriages.
  3. Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation be illegal on the same basis as that of sex and race.
  4. Religious rights be extended to non-religious people, and provision made for the proper coverage of humanism and other non-religious philosophies of life in schools and on television and radio.
  5. Humanist organisations be allowed to register marriages on the same basis as churches.
  6. Humanist counsellors be appointed in hospitals, prisons and the armed forces on the same basis as chaplains and provided with similar resources (as in the Netherlands).

The Labour Party said that it is “looking at the whole area of religious and non-religious rights”, but GALHA found its reply less than adequate on lesbian and gay rights. In a follow-up letter on the specific question of partnerships, GALHA asked: “What has the age of consent to do with partnerships?”, but in its final letter the party confirmed that it is not prepared at present to give any consideration to this sort of reform which would be of great benefit to lesbian and gay couples.

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Created : Sunday, 1999-09-05 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
Brett Humphreys :