Gay lawyers welcome civil partnerships but warn against ‘legal threesomes’

Gay lawyers this week called on ministers to tighten up on the detail for their Civil Partnership Registration scheme, in a broadly positive welcome to the ongoing consultation exercise. The Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association (LAGLA) gave its backing to proposals that in its view “would create a new institution that closely follows the rights and duties of marriage” and would “bring an end to discrimination against same-sex partnerships”. “We welcome the Government’s proposals but they have left a number of areas unclear,” said LAGLA chairman Andrea Woelke and a lawyer at London firm Anthony Gold. “For example, dependants’ pensions may be minimal if they are not backdated. This would be grossly unfair because gay men and lesbians have been paying the same pension and national insurance contributions as everyone else.”

The group also warned that the Government’s proposals did not adequately prevent someone being married to one person while being in a registered partnership. “If this area is not addressed, we could have legal threesomes,” Woelke added. The group also called on ministers to allow registration in hotels and embassies abroad and to permit those religious groups that want to perform ceremonies to do so.

Woelke said that the proposals “would not only bring inestimable benefit to gay and lesbian couples who register their partnership” but would also “strengthen rather than undermine marriage since every civil partnership would be an endorsement of the principles underlying marriage”. The consultation period closes at the end of the month.