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Brit Greens call for an end to marriage ban in EU
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Brit Greens call for an end to marriage ban in EU
by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Britain's two current Green Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Caroline Lucas (South-East England) and Jean Lambert (London), are backing calls for an end to the ban on same-sex marriage in the UK and in other European Union (EU) member states.

Both want EU-wide same-sex marriage laws.

"The Green Party is the only British political party that opposes the ban on same-sex civil marriage. We want marriage equality for LGBT couples," said Green Party leader and European election candidate for South-East England, Caroline Lucas. "Lesbian and Gay married couples should be able to move freely around Europe and have their marriage recognized on exactly the same basis as heterosexual married couples."

Lucas and Lambert were the only Greens elected as Members of the European Parliament in the 1999 European elections. They retained their seats in the 2004 elections despite a reduction in number of seats available. The European Parliamentary elections are being held in the 27-member countries between June 4 and 7. In the UK, the election is on June 4. Both Lucas and Lambert are running for reelection.

The Green Party was founded to counter what it sees as threats to the environment, which remains its main focus. Across Europe and beyond, the Greens are seen as the Gay-friendly political party.

Gay Human Rights campaigner, Green Party human rights spokesperson and Green parliamentary candidate Peter Tatchell said, "Most EU countries do not recognize the different same-sex partnership laws in other member states. For a majority of Lesbian and Gay couples their legal rights stop at their own borders. This creates lots of problems for same-sex partners who travel or move to other EU countries."

He said at the moment there is a confusing patchwork of different partnership laws in different European countries, ranging from the PACS system in France to civil partnerships in Britain and to full civil marriage countries like Spain and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands was the first modern nation to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. Following the Netherlands, Belgium legalized same-sex marriage in 2003. In 2005 Spain and Canada followed. South Africa legalized it in 2006. This year both Norway and Sweden made same-sex marriage legal for their Gay and Lesbian citizens.

The confusing patchwork Tatchell is talking about began in 1989 when Denmark recognized the first same-sex union in modern history. Since then, civil unions, civil partnership, domestic partnership, unregistered partnership/unregistered co-habilitation or registered partnerships offer varying amounts of benefits of marriage and are available throughout Europe in: Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxemburg, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

In the United Kingdom, civil partnerships were introduced in 2006 giving civil partners identical legal status to marriage, and partners gain all the same benefits and associated legal rights, ranging from tax exemptions and joint property rights, to next-of-kin status and shared parenting responsibilities. A marriage registrar performs partnership ceremonies in the same manner as a secular civil marriage. In the first year, over 16,000 ceremonies took place.

Gay activist and advocate groups in support of same-sex marriage argue that in some countries with legal recognition, the actual benefits are minimal. Many people consider civil unions, even those which grant equal rights, inadequate because they create a separate status, and think they should be replaced by gender-neutral marriage.

"The Green believes it is time these laws were harmonized throughout EU to the best and most universally recognized system of partnership - civil marriage. Anything less is second class and discrimination," Tatchell added.
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