Labour Research December 2001

Equality news

MPs support rights for same-sex couples

Partnership rights for same-sex partners and unmarried couples, including rights to occupational pensions, have been supported by the House of Commons.

A Bill introduced by Labour MP Jane Griffiths would allow cohabiting couples to register their relationship, and legal status would then be given to registered relationships in respect of occupational pensions (including public sector schemes which currently exclude all unmarried partners), inheritance tax, housing succession, compensation for accidents and immigration.

Angela Mason, executive director of campaign group Stonewall, which is sponsoring the Bill, said: "This is really a case of the law catching up with the realities of people's lives. This Bill is not proposing gay marriage, but it will stop much of the discrimination against same-sex couples - discrimination which is often very distressing and certainly unfair."

The Relationships (Civil Registration) Bill was passed by a majority of 120 in its first reading, but is a 10-minute rule Bill which has no guarantee of being given parliamentary time. However, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester is also preparing a private member's Bill that would contain more comprehensive partnership rights, which he is hoping to introduce into the Lords soon.