Yesterday, the Scottish Government published its consultation on the future of Civil Partnerships in Scotland. I was just as surprised as many equality and human rights campaigners were that it appears the Government seems to be ruling out the introduction of opposite sex civil partnerships in Scotland.
For many years, Scottish Greens and others campaigned for marriage equality, and we were delighted when, last year, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 made it possible for same sex couples to marry. This was a very important move towards ending legislative homophobia: our legal institutions should not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
For many of us, the logical next step is be to extend civil partnerships to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Moving to a position of true equality, true parity of esteem, is so important to ensure an end to discrimination in our legal and civil processes and structures. When the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act was passed, the issue of civil partnership equality was postponed, pending further consultation and review.
The Scottish Government’s preferred proposals for civil partnerships – to keep the system as it is or to dispense with them altogether in the future – are conservative and small-minded at best, regressive and discriminatory at worst. The argument that registrations are declining so future take up will be low is no argument at all: equal rights should not be determined by uptake!
At our Autumn Conference next month, Greens will be debating a policy motion on LGBTI+ issues. In the motion is a statement in support of civil partnerships becoming open to all couples. I will be arguing strongly in favour of this statement; this is the basis of true equality. As far as the Scottish Government’s consultation process is concerned, I urge the SNP to reconsider its position and make a stand for real equality across all couples in Scotland.