Tag Archives: house of commons

House of Lords vote virtually ensures marriage equality for England and Wales

With two major U.S. Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage looming on the horizon, the British government has taken a step that virtually ensures gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales will be able to marry beginning next year.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s marriage equality bill survived a feared rebellion in the House of Lords that would have derailed the measure, which won prior approval from the House of Commons.

The House of Lords’ attempt to quash the proposed law was rejected by a voted of 390 to 148.

Civil partnerships have been legal in England since 2005. The new law would allow civil partners to convert their arrangement to marriages.

The law would ban the Church of England and Church of Wales from performing same-sex weddings but allow other religious organizations to chose for themselves whether to do so.

“This is a victory for love, marriage and equality,” said gay activist Peter Tatchell, who coordinates the Equal Love campaign. “We are another step closer to our goal of equal marriage. It signals that the House of Lords accepts the principle that we should all be equal before the law.”

Labour and Liberal Democrats largely supported the bill, while Tories were split.

In support of the bill, Tory peer Lord Jenkin said: “Other people have referred to their anniversaries. Last year, my wife and I celebrated our diamond wedding, and I have to say that it has been a marriage with mutual comfort and support. Is this bill going to redefine that marriage? I cannot see how that could possibly happen.”

British House of Commons passes marriage equality bill

The British House of Commons passed the marriage equality bill – known as the same sex couples bill – on May 21.

The vote on the third reading of the legislation was 366 votes to 161 votes.

The day before, supporters of the bill defeated, by a vote of 375-70, an amendment they said was intended to stall the equality campaign.

Now the bill will be considered in the House of Lords.

Ben Summerskill of the Stonewall LGBT civil rights group, said, “We expect to face determined and uncompromising opposition.”

He encouraged citizens to “make sure that the noisy voices of opponents don’t drown out the case for equality.”

Summerskill also said, “We’re so close to achieving this last remaining piece of the jigsaw of legal equality. With your help we can secure a future where everyone has the right to marry the person they love.”

Gay lawmaker denies rape allegations in UK

A senior British Conservative Party politician arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault said on May 5 the allegations against him are “completely false.”

Deputy House of Commons Speaker Nigel Evans, 55, was arrested on May 4. He was questioned about sex offenses that allegedly took place between July 2009 and March 2013 and was later released on bail.

Evans – who has served in Parliament for two decades and is one of Britain’s most prominent gay lawmakers – said the allegations were made by “two people well known to each other” and who until a day earlier he had regarded as friends.

“The complaints are completely false and I cannot understand why they have been made, especially as I have continued to socialize with one as recently as last week,” he said, thanking colleagues and friends who echoed his own “sense of incredulity” over the allegations.

He did not address whether he would stay on as deputy speaker in his brief prepared statement, but a spokesman for the House of Commons confirmed that Evans had asked to be excused from chairing the Queen’s Speech debate due to start on May 8.

The debate comes after Queen Elizabeth II opens a new session of Parliament with a speech outlining the government’s legislative plans, and lawmakers then debate the content of the speech over several days.

Lee Bridges, the spokesman, said Evans had asked Speaker John Bercow to excuse him from the debate in the House of Commons and that the speaker was “happy to give him that” time, which could last about a week.

British officials, including Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, expressed shock over his arrest, while Foreign Secretary William Hague called him a “popular and well-respected member of Parliament.”

Evans has been a lawmaker for the Lancashire constituency since 1992. In June 2010, he was elected one of the three deputy speakers for the House of Commons.

Later that year, he told a newspaper he was gay, saying he was “tired of living a lie” and that opponents had threatened to expose his sexuality.

“I could not afford it to be used as leverage against me,” he told The Mail on Sunday at the time. “I couldn’t take the risk. I don’t want any other MP to face that kind of nastiness again.”

Canada’s House of Commons votes for transgender rights bill

Canada’s House of Commons has passed a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender people.

The bill now goes to the Senate, which is unelected and is expected to approve it.

The bill is one of the first tests of the Conservative caucus’ resolve on LGBT rights in Canada at a time when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been mounting a strong defense of such rights abroad.

The legislation passed by a vote of 149-137, with the crucial support of 16 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposed the bill.