Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has claimed that forthcoming gay marriage legislation will leave heterosexual couples with fewer rights than gay ones.
The Australian-born activist said: “Opposite-sex couples are legally prohibited from having a civil partnership and David Cameron intends to keep it that way. This will mean gay couples will soon have legal privileges over heterosexual couples.”
He added: “There will be two forms of official state recognition for lesbian and gay couples: the present system of civil partnerships and the new system of civil marriages. Heterosexual couples will have only one option: marriage. They will be subjected to legal inequality and discrimination. This is very wrong. I support straight equality.”
Australian MP Bob Such recently proposed a universal right to civil partnerships in South Australia.
Tatchell’s comments followed news that the government is due to unveil its much discussed legislation permitting gay marriage next week. As expected, religious institutions which object to same sex unions will be able to opt out of such ceremonies.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution. But let me be absolutely 100 per cent clear, if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage, it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it. That is absolutely clear in the legislation. Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for members of parliament but personally I will be supporting it.”