Equality Minister Lynne Featherstone announced on Saturday
that the government would be holding a public consultation on
legalising gay marriage from March next year.
However, Tatchell says this delay is unjustified: "This
consultation was supposed to begin in June this year. There is no
excuse for postponing it until March next year. Why can't the
consultation start now?
"I am not convinced that there needs to be any
consultation at all. The ban on same-sex marriage is homophobic
discrimination and should therefore be repealed
"No other government legislation is being subjected to
such prolonged consultation and postponements.
"The Scottish government's consultation on marriage
equality began earlier this month. Why is the UK government
dragging its feet and delaying the consultation until next spring?
It doesn't make sense.
"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. Why the double
"Despite the government's assurances, there is a very
serious danger that this delay will prevent marriage equality being
passed before the next election. Because the consultation will not
begin until March 2012, it is unlikely that legislation will be
presented to parliament before mid-2013. Allowing for obstruction
by the House of Lords, it is doubtful that it would be passed
before late 2014, which is perilously close to the deadline for the
next election. If the Prime Minister called an early election, the
legislation would fall.
"Ending sexual orientation discrimination in marriage law
is the right thing to do and it has majority public support. There
is no reason for the government to delay in bringing forward
legislation to end this legal iniquity."
Tatchell also said that it was outrageous that
Featherstone would be not be repealing the ban on gay religious
marriages and straight civil partnerships as part of the
"It is outrageous that the Equality Minister wants to
maintain the unequal, discriminatory laws that bar gay religious
marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships. She should be
renamed the Minister for Inequality."
Equal Love is campaigning to repeal the twin bans on gay
civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships. It currently
has an appeal against these bans before the European Court of Human