Equal marriage in the UK – Timeline

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1997: The government cabinet included Britain’s first openly gay minister, Chris Smith, and the government immediately set about ending legislative discrimination against gays and lesbians.

2000: The age of consent for homosexual sex came down from 18 to 16, and Section 28 was repealed.

2004: The Civil Partnership Act was announced and passed, with the first ceremonies taking place in December 2005.

2010: The Equalities Act 2010 allowed Civil Partnerships to be performed in religious institutions and buildings. During the 2010 general election, all the major parties signalled their willingness to look at the issue of marriage equality.

2011: Scotland’s government consulted on gay marriage. The consultation was by far the biggest in the history of the Scottish parliament, with 77,000 responses which resulted in a figure of 67% opposed to same sex marriage.

2012: England and Wales government consulted on gay marriage, there were 228,000 submissions. The Home Office says the results will be known by the end of 2012. In July, the Scottish government pledged to introduce both civil and religious same-sex marriage, but was careful to stress that no religious institution would be compelled to offer it, and that measures would be put in place to “protect” celebrants of any faith group who disagreed with same-sex marriage. Bills for gay marriage introduced into the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments, December 2012.

Text updated 15 December 2012


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