First Published: January 2003
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
From partnerships and pensions to employment and education: LGB lobbying and campaigning group Stonewall invited OutUK's Adrian Gillan to a special briefing to outline their work for the next twelve months.
"We still have a big fight on our hands," braces Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill (right) for the two month haul ahead to hopefully convert the Lords-stalled Civil Partnership Bill into law.

"But to achieve this would mark a real leap forward for the LGB community and how we are perceived by wider society."

Complacency and poor turn-out by pro-gay Labour and Lib Dem peers in June allowed the Upper House to delay the Bill under the guise of an amendment, extending its scope beyond just same-sex couples, to include family members: two older siblings co-habiting, say, or a son looking after his mother.
However, Stonewall Parliamentary Director Alan Wardle is adamant this was simply a cunning homophobic diversion tactic to give the government and LGB community a bloody nose: "There is definitely a need to help family members but this Bill is not the right tool. Such an issue is complex and needs its own Bill. A range of relevant organisations, from Carers UK to Help the Aged, back us on this."
Looking ahead now, there is a six week period between when the Civil Partnership Bill comes back to the Commons in early October and its hoped-for assent into law via the Queen's Speech on 23rd November. As before, Stonewall does not anticipate many hurdles at the Commons stages; however, this time, it is determined to get those slacking Labour & Lib Dem peers out to vote. Should things go to plan, there would then be a twelve month implementation period post-assent. So, realistically, it would not be until December 2005 that LGBs could sign on the dotted line and enjoy full partner benefits.

Moreover, though the Bill makes no specific reference to "next of kin" - not a legal concept - Stonewall is convinced that hospitals and executors of wills will have a tough case to answer once passed into Law, should they discriminate against same-sex civil partners in favour of, say, other family members. Indeed, assures Summerskill: "In every respect except one - pensions - we have succeeded in securing legal equivalence with marriage in terms of rights, entitlements and responsibilities - including divorce."


Most private sector pension funds voluntarily support same-sex partner "survivor rights" as do the majority of the eighty-odd "Stonewall Diversity Champion" employers, drawn from both public and private sectors. Apart from this being the right thing to do, many employers are now seeing it as the wise thing to do since keen not to lose or deter potential LGB talent in their workforce.
Naturally a big employer in the public sector themselves, the government resisted parity on pensions in the Civil Partnership Bill. However, warns Summerskill: "If the government don't listen to us over survivor pensions for LGBs in the public sector, then we may - subject to legal advice, and it would be a sad day - need to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights."

Employment & Education

To find out more about Stonewall's work or to help it campaign or raise funds check out


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