Gay church blasts civil partnership rights plan

A GAY church has attacked the Scottish Executive’s plans for civil partnerships because they do not include the option of a religious ceremony.

The new partnerships are designed to give homosexuals in long-term, stable relationships many of the same legal rights as married couples.

But under the proposals, currently out for consultation, only a registrar can conduct the ceremony to make the partnershipofficial.

And same-sex couples who wanted to take their vows in church would have to follow their religious service with a ceremony at the registrar’s office to make it legal.

Rev Ian Bonner-Evans, senior pastor of Holy Trinity Metropolitan Community Church in Edinburgh, already conducts services of blessing for gay couples.

He said: "It is sad that the Executive wishes to deny this choice to same-sex couples.

"Allowing churches to do this would not force any church to take part if they did not approve but it would recognise that some lesbian, gay and bisexual people may wish to seek God’s blessing on their commitment. I can only hope the Executive will change its mind and allow religious freedom to prevail."

There are more than 300 Metropolitan Community Church congregations worshipping in 19 countries around the world.

Stephen Harte, a leading member of the Edinburgh congregation, the only one in Scotland, said:

"Under these proposals, civil partnerships could only be conducted by a registrar. It is denying couples the choice to set the ceremony in a spiritual context."

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