Commission briefs MPs on Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012/13

05 February 2013

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued an analysis to MPs of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012/13 in light of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998. This analysis concludes that the Bill, which will apply in England and Wales, would be in accordance with provisions within the legislation and would further the rights of individuals to equality before the law, in so far as it will:

  • enable same sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies;
  • ensure those religious organisations that wish to do so can opt in to conduct marriage ceremonies for same sex couples;
  • provide protection under equality law for ministers of religion who do not wish to marry same sex couples;
  • enable civil partners to convert their partnership to a marriage; and
  • enable married individuals wishing to change their legal gender to do so without having to end their marriage.

The Commission's analysis is that churches and individual ministers will not find themselves forced by litigation to conduct same sex marriages and no one will be required to promote views about same-sex marriage which they do not support.

The Commission's analysis also concludes that the Bill is in accordance with the European Court of Human Rights' interpretation of human rights legislation and would therefore withstand any challenge in the court.

The Commission's briefing for the second reading debate is available at:

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012/13

The Commission will be issuing a further, more detailed analysis of the Bill to MPs at committee stage.

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For more press information contact the Commission's media office on 0161 829 8102, out of hours 07767 272 818.

Notes to Editors

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.