Leading figures from the Scottish Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties have been united in their calls for the Scottish government to reconsider its position.
The Scottish government is currently consulting on the future of civil partnerships, but has stated it prefers the status quo or phasing out civil partnerships to the option of opening civil partnerships to all – something veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell believes “contradicts the First Minister’s repeated commitment to equality for all and sabotages the democratic principle that everyone should be equal before the law.”
Labour’s Margaret McCulloch MSP, who is convenor of the Equal Opportunities Committee, told KaleidoScot of her surprise: “I am genuinely surprised that the Scottish Government appear to be distancing themselves from mixed-sex civil partnerships before their consultation even opens to the public. I can’t see why they are now rushing to object to equality in civil partnerships when they brought equality to marriage only a few months ago.”
Scottish Green Party co-convenor, Maggie Chapman – writing for KaleidoScot – explained that extending civil partnerships to all is an important question of equality. “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.”
Ian Duncan, the Scottish Conservative MEP and Vice President of the LGBTI Intergroup in the European Parliament, said: “Equality must apply to everybody and I urge the Scottish Government to think again so civil partnerships are not stigmatised as being the preserve of the LGBTi community.”
Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: “Equality is in the DNA of our party.
“In 2010, Liberal Democrat conference supported moves to extend civil partnerships to all couples. It is disappointing that ministers appear to have made up their mind before hearing all the evidence and listening to the views of the public; however, we will closely monitor the Scottish Government’s consultation and response.”
Dave Page, Chair of LGBT+ Lib Dems, told KaleidoScot: “When the Lib Dems first proposed civil partnerships, it was a progressive institution on the French model. Unfortunately, Labour was lobbied by prominent lesbian & gay bodies to introduce separate-but-equal.
“Lib Dem policy supports civil partnership for all couples, and we are disappointed the Scottish Government has ruled this out. Civil Partnership provides a more clear legal framework than marriage, with fewer religious and patriarchal associations, and is desired by both same- and mixed-sex couples.”
The charitable sector has also expressed its concern over the government’s position – and specifically the government’s decision to make its own preference known in advance of launching a consultation – with the Equality Network making the case for retaining civil partnerships and opening them to all couples regardless of gender.