The campaign group Equal Love has started an action in the European Cour of Human Rights in a bid to change the law and allow gay couples to marry. Since 2005 they have been able to enter into a Civil Partnership which many say is marriage by another name. It confers the same legal rights on the couple as marriage but not the same social acknowledgement.
The action could take up to 3 years.
The Conservatives have consistently tried to draw a distinction between marriage and civil partnerships in order to maintain the ‘tradditional’ family model whilst at the same time trying desperately not to promote discrimination between gay and straight couples. TheOpinionSite.org believes that the Conservatives are actually more concerned with the possible criticism from the Daily Mail than with promoting equality.
Only this week a new report showed that Britain was still a predominantly homophobic country, despite endless legislation to try to stem discrimination against gays. The term ‘gay’ is still the word of choice used to humiliate children and teens in the playground and ‘gay bashing’ is still a huge problem in British towns and cities.
The legal action started by Equal Love also calls for heterosexual couples to be allowed civil partnerships. This would allow those who chose not to marry to still have the legal protections that traditional marriage offers. The Conservatives quite like this idea but cannot stomach the notion of ‘gay marriage’.
Their position is even more hypocritical when one considers that next year gay couples will even be able to engage in civil partnetships in places of worship. Such a move was previously regarded as unthinkable by government. The problem is, whatever moves are made legally, the vast majority of British people still have enormous difficulty with the whole subject of homosexuality.
Until 1968 it was illegal, then the legal age moved from 21 to 18, then from 18 to 16 – though that came with strings attached in order to get it past the barrage of opposition led by the likes of Nicolas Winterton MP who claimed that such a move was tantamount to child abuse, despite the fact that all the legislation did was to bring the age of consent for boys in line with that for girls.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that the Conservatives who effectively rule the Coalition government will fight tooth and nail against any judgement by the European Court which would force the British to allow gay couples to formally marry. Whilst Equal Love have been quite clever in introducing straight civil partnerships into the same action, presumably to make it more acceptable to the Tory right wing, it will not achieve that aim.
Britain is and always has been anti-gay. Successive governments have shouted about the ‘progress’ that has been made in ending discrimination but for all their noise, it is as prevalent now as it ever was. We will know when that has changed when gay couples can walk hand in hand through the streets of a city like Portsmouth on a Saturday, past the hundreds of macho, beer swilling football fans without being ridiculed or set upon.
Until we achieve that, nothing will have really changed and TheOpinionSite.org and others will continue to wonder why the British are too frightened to accept what other countries have already accepted and welcomed.