The Secular Humanist Society of Gibraltar has said it supports same sex marriage. The group has distributed to the media the following document which it submitted to the Government regarding the Command Paper on Same Sex Marriage:
“The SHSG wholeheartedly supports equality in marriage for all, regardless of the gender of the parties to that marriage. Marriage is and should be about love and making a commitment to the person you love. This is something that heterosexuals do not have a monopoly on.
“Equality cannot be simply a word, for it to have any meaning the law must truly treat citizens equally. This must necessarily include full rights of marriage for all. Many have argued that same gender couples should content themselves with Civil Partnerships but this begs the question – why should they? Why should a gay person be denied marrying the person they love simply because of that person’s gender? Welcome though the introduction of Civil Partnerships was, the inescapable fact remains that it is not a marriage and does not have the same recognition internationally.
“We believe that the proposed amendments to the Marriage Act will finally bring true equality. However we feel we should bring to your attention the following Section of the Matrimonial Causes Act which we believe may also require amendment to give the legislation full effect;
Grounds on which a marriage is void.
25.(1) A marriage shall be void on any of the following grounds
(c) that the parties are not respectively male and female; or
“We are aware that there is some opposition to this measure, mainly but not exclusively on religious grounds. These people have nothing to fear from such legislation. Those who think it wrong for whatever reason, to marry someone of the same gender as themselves are free not to do so. They are free to continue to feel it is wrong. But the fact that they think that should not interfere with other people’s right to choose their own marriage partner. This is not about denying anything to anyone, nor about compelling anyone to do anything. This is simply about providing options and equality.
“We are firmly opposed to the notion of holding a referendum on the issue. Human Rights are not something to be voted on, rights are to protect individuals and they should not be subject to public consultation as to whether a person or group of people are worthy of rights. If a man wishes to marry a woman the only person who needs to consent to this is his intended spouse. To suggest that if the same man wished to marry another man instead, he would suddenly need the consent of 51% of the electorate is absurd in the extreme. It is nobody else’s business who people wish to marry – marriage only requires the consent of two adults, nobody else.
“On another note we would like to bring a related but separate issue to your attention. Sections 4,5 & 6 of the Marriage Act allow for the registration of buildings as “places of worship” for the purpose of carrying out marriage ceremonies, also with the registration of Ministers to perform such ceremonies. There appears to be no such provision for the registration of Secular venues and / or Ministers / Celebrants. We feel this is an ideal opportunity to correct this oversight. Humanist Celebrants conduct legally valid ceremonies already in Scotland and we feel it is only a matter of time before the rest of the UK follows suit. The Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and the Equal Opportunities Act requires equal opportunities for all and defines “religion or belief” as any religion, religious belief or a similar philosophical belief and includes a lack of religion or religious or philosophical belief. Not having provision for Secular Celebrants and venues would appear to be in contravention of both of these.
“I trust that the Government will move forward quickly on this issue, for which it is clear there is overwhelming public support.”