A controversial consultation examining the possibility of radically redefining marriage in England and Wales is set to begin in the autumn, a spokesman for the Westminster Government has revealed.
Last week the Scottish Government announced similar plans to launch a consultation by the end of 2011.
It had been understood that the Westminster Government would begin soliciting views on the subject over the summer.
But now a spokesman at the Home Office has indicated that the consultation process will not begin until the autumn.
The spokesman, speaking in response to an enquiry, said: “We are at the early stages of this work and will be, from the autumn, looking to discuss with a range of stakeholders how this work can move forward.”
Earlier this year Michael White, assistant editor at The Guardian, said: “Aside from all the theological, moral and cultural freight, there’s an important practical distinction here which goes to the root of any society – namely that heterosexual marriage is there to produce and raise children in a more or less stable environment.”
Mr White, writing on The Guardian’s politics blog, went on to warn that no amount of technology could “eliminate the need for a female egg and a male sperm to make a baby. On that fact rest all successful societies since the year dot.”
And Edward Leigh MP has also questioned why the Government is trying to ‘mangle’ marriage, warning that it could lead to further complications.
Mr Leigh, a former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “Once we have departed from the universally understood framework of marriage, there is no logical reason why the new alternative institution should be limited to two people. Why not three? Or thirty-three?”
In Canada a polygamist went to the Supreme Court of British Columbia claiming that his multiple marriages should be allowed because the law there permits same-sex ‘marriage’.
Peter Tatchell, a homosexual activist, has criticised the delay of the Government’s consultation.
He said: “The government announced its plan to consult way back in February. The consultation was scheduled to begin in the summer. Now it has been put back until the autumn. There is no excuse for these endless delays.”