Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has claimed that the
Equality Minister for the Liberal Democrats - Lynne
Featherstone - is working against fairness for straight
"Bravo to the Liberal Democrat party conference. Two years ago,
party members voted overwhelmingly to end the twin legal bans on
same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships," he
wrote on the Liberal Democrat Voice website. "They committed a
future Lib Dem government to scrap sexual orientation
discrimination in marriage and partnership law. Well done. Thank
He then added: "Sadly, the Lib Dem Equality Minister, Lynne
Featherstone, apparently with the support of the Lib Dem Deputy
Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is now actively backing discrimination.
She plans to keep unequal laws, contrary to the Lib Dem's election
"Specifically, Lynne is vowing to retain the prohibition on
heterosexual civil partnerships and on religious same-sex marriages
by faith organisations that want to conduct them. This is in direct
defiance of what her party members voted for: equality.
"Lynne is lovely. I like her as a person. However, she has
announced a long and unjustified delay in the government's promised
consultation on civil marriage and civil partnership; pre-empting
the consultation findings by ruling out straight and religious
equality. She said at the start of this year that the consultation
would begin in June. Then she postponed it until October. Now it
has been put off until March next year. Why can't the consultation
start now? Despite all our requests, Lynne has failed to explain
why this delay is necessary.
"I am not persuaded that there needs to be any consultation at
all. The ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic discrimination and
should therefore be repealed immediately."
He then extended his fight to compare it against race and
"If black or Jewish people had been banned from marriage, the
government would act swiftly to ensure marriage equality. There
would be no long drawn out consultation period. There would be no
appeasement of racists and anti-Semites. Why the double
"No other government legislation is being subjected to such
prolonged consultation and repeated postponements."
He then said:"It is outrageous that the Equality Minister wants to
maintain the unequal, discriminatory laws that bar gay religious
marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. Her stance is not
compatible with her professed Liberal Democrat values or with the
wishes of the vast majority of Lib Dem party members."