An online petition has been launched calling for a change in the law so gay couples will be allowed civil partnership ceremonies in churches.
In a petition on the Downing Street website homosexual campaigners have called for the Civil Partnerships Act 2004 to be amended to allow ceremonies to take place in religious buildings.
Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion, Andrew Falconer, began the petition, which has gained more than 500 signatures – the number required for an official response.
At present civil partnerships can only take place in a registry office or other approved premises, but not in buildings reserved for religious purposes.
The Government has maintained its views that civil partnerships are not the same as marriage, but some activists want to see the definition of marriage changed to incorporate same-sex unions.
Earlier this year, homosexual lobbyists in Scotland called for gay couples to be able to ‘marry’ on the same terms as heterosexual couples, including holding weddings in consenting churches.
The Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Network backed the petition on the Scottish Government website, arguing that traditional marriage should no longer have a distinct status from same-sex unions, and same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in religious ceremonies.
Family campaigners warn that any such changes would undermine the status of marriage.
The House of Lords was told last year that while civil partnerships are allowed in the UK, the law “did not call those partnerships marriage, and that remains government policy”.