Government imposing ‘gay marriage’ on Northern Ireland
On Tuesday (12 October) MPs debate the Government’s Civil Partnership Bill for the first time. The Bill extends all the legal rights and privileges of marriage to homosexual couples who register a ‘civil partnership’. It is ‘gay marriage’ in all but name. The Bill is intended to apply throughout the UK.
The Government is forcing the Bill through while the Assembly is suspended – despite its own consultation in the Province in which 86% opposed the plans.* The consultation was ignored. On 30 March, only 25 days after the consultation was closed, the Civil Partnership Bill was printed with incomplete Northern Ireland provisions included. Clearly the Government had already decided to impose civil partnership on the Province. On 11 May the Government attempted to fix the Northern Ireland provisions by tabling 52 clauses and 6 schedules. This involved 120 pages of amendments.
Under the Bill, two homosexuals will register a civil partnership before a registrar and witnesses and there would be a court-based process for dissolving it. Homosexuals who register will be entitled to the same recognition in law as married couples – in the tax and benefits system and well beyond. But two old ladies who live together must pretend to be lesbians if they want to overcome the legal hardships of their living arrangements.
Over the summer the Government twice rejected an amendment in the House of Lords to give the final say over civil partnership in Northern Ireland to the Assembly.** Lords Molyneaux, Maginnis, Kilclooney and Fitt all spoke in support of the amendment.
The census of 2001 found that there were only 288 same-sex couple households in the whole of Northern Ireland. The Government says that at the most only 5% of same-sex couples will commit to civil partnerships. 5% of 288 is 14. On its own statistics, the Government is destroying the basis of family law in Northern Ireland for the sake of 14 homosexual couples.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said today: “It is a constitutional outrage that the Government is pressing ahead whilst the Assembly remains suspended. Many people from across Northern Ireland will be horrified. As the Government’s own consultation showed, a huge majority of people in the Province oppose ‘gay marriage’.”
“Civil partnerships fundamentally undermine marriage by making it legally equivalent to homosexual relationships. The Government is introducing counterfeit marriage in Northern Ireland which devalues the genuine article.”
* See http://www.olrni.gov.uk/consult_Uploads/FINALCPRESPONSE.pdf as at 7 October 2004
** House of Lords, Hansard, 24 June 2004, col. 1424 and 1 July 2004, cols 407-408