Dear Mr Kay,
Thank you for your email of 4th July to Lynne Featherstone MP concerning equal marriage and civil partnerships. Your letter has been passed to the Government Equalities Office, and I have been asked to reply.
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 expressly prohibited couples entering into a civil partnership on religious premises. Civil marriages are also entirely secular in nature and as such cannot be registered in religious premises or contain religious language or symbols. A back-bench amendment made to the Equality Act 2010 makes it possible to remove the express prohibition on civil partnership registrations taking place on religious premises, to allow religious organisations to host civil partnership registrations on their premises, if they wish to do so.
The Government is talking to those with a key interest in this issue about what the next stage should be for civil partnerships. This includes representatives of churches and faith groups as well as groups representing lesbian, gay and bisexual people. I’m grateful to you for sending in your thoughts on the issue of equal marriage and these comments will be considered alongside the views collated during the listening exercise before a decision is made on the next steps.
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