Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone
on Saturday unveiled plans to make gay marriage legal in Britain
Featherstone said at the Liberal
Democrats party conference in Birmingham that the Conservative Party
was committed to changing the law. The Conservative Party is
Britain's largest political party. It governs in coalition with the
Liberal Democrats. Prime Minister David Cameron is the party's
leader. He supports the move.
Great Britain currently recognizes the
unions of gay and lesbian couples with civil partnerships, which
offer most of the legal protections of marriage.
“Britain must not get complacent. We
are a world leader for gay rights, but there is still more that we
must do. In March, this Government will begin a formal consultation
on how to implement equal civil marriage for same sex couples,”
Featherstone said, according to The
“And this would allow us to make any
legislative changes necessary by the end of this Parliament.”
“Civil partnerships were a welcome
first step – but this party rejects prejudice and discrimination in
all its forms.”
“And I believe that to deny one group
of people the same opportunities offered to another is not only
discrimination, but is not fair,” she added.
The consultation will not consider
whether to allow gay and lesbian couples to have religious marriages.
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell told
the BBC that there was no reason to delay.
“I am not convinced that there needs
to be any consultation at all,” Tatchell said. “The ban on
same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and should be
“It is an insult to people of faith
for the equality minister to rule out any repeal of the ban on
religious organizations conducting same-sex marriages,” he added.
It was not clear whether gay couples in
civil partnerships would be upgraded to marriage or whether the union
was being eliminated.