Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill - Committee

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:30 pm on 1st February 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Barker Baroness Barker Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Voluntary Sector) 12:30 pm, 1st February 2019

My Lords, I want to ask a question of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who was precise in referring to the Church of England. My understanding is that the same provisions stand for the Church in Wales as well. They were included under the same legislation, so I wanted to make sure that was right.

I will raise one other matter. The default position in the way the same-sex couples legislation was written was to defer always to the wishes of the Church, so much so that the provisions for same-sex marriage state that there must be no religious content whatever in the ceremony. For some of us, that is not a problem; we realise that we are estranged from the Church. For some people, as my noble friend has powerfully said, it is a deeply hurtful thing.

I will give two examples. A friend of mine of the Jewish faith could not have a chuppah—a canopy—or the breaking of a glass, because that is deemed to be a religious ceremony. In his community, it has a religious basis, but is also a cultural practice. Speaking for myself, I was taken aback on the day of my marriage—wonderfully happy it was, after 29 years—to be required to say what music we were going to have, because we were not allowed any music that was deemed to be religious. The effect of this protection for the Church has quite extensive and deeply hurtful ramifications, as my noble friend says. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, may not win today, but I thank him for raising again a very deep injustice.