UK Politics

Date set for option to convert civil unions to gay marriages

Men exchanging wedding rings Image copyright AFP/Getty

Gay people who are currently in civil partnerships will be able to convert their relationships to marriages from 10 December, the government has said.

Writing in Pink News, Equalities Minister Sajid Javid said people had been "clamouring" for the move since gay marriage became possible in March.

Since first announcing its support for gay marriage, the government has always said it planned to bring in the move.

But Labour questioned why it was still six months from coming into force.

Mr Javid wrote: "For me, freedom has always been about the right to be who you are and love who you love. That's why I was proud to walk through the aye lobby at the House of Commons in support of equal marriage.

"And that's why I'm pleased to announce that, from 10 December, couples in England and Wales who have entered a civil partnership over the past decade will be free to convert it into a marriage.

"This is something that many, many people have been clamouring for since the first equal marriages took place in March, and the final preparations are well under way.

"We've made the process of conversion as straightforward as possible. Couples will simply have to attend a register office and sign a declaration that they both wish to convert their civil partnership to a marriage in front of the superintendent registrar. That's it."

'Betrayal'

He also said that there would be good news for married transgender people from 10 December.

"You will now be able to change your legal gender without ending your marriage, provided you and your husband or wife agree to remain married," he explained.

Labour's shadow women and equalities minister Gloria De Piero said: "At last we have a date but after waiting this long, couples will be wondering why they now have to wait another six months to convert their civil partnerships to marriage.

"I've written to the secretary of state to ask him to come forward with the details about how much couples can expect to have to pay for the licence and what the process will be for them to get a marriage certificate."

After a consultation, the government has also announced that heterosexual couples who want to recognise their relationship with a civil partnership rather than a marriage would not be granted permission.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: "David Cameron has betrayed the principle of equality by refusing to allow opposite-sex couples to have a civil partnership.

"His government is maintaining legal discrimination against straight partners. In a democracy, we should all be equal before the law."

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