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An issue that has been very popular recently is marriage equality, same sex marriage, or gay marriage. Whatever you call it, it’s basically a push to change the law so that two consenting adults can be joined legally in a union known as marriage. Many countries have already achieved marriage equality, the first ones including; the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada , Norway, Sweden, and Iceland . Some countries have recognised that everyone deserves the equal right to marriage regardless of gender.
The LGBT+ community has been at risk legislatively as previously they were not allowed to be joined in a legal union with the person they loved simply because the person they loved was of the same gender. This was massively discriminatory.
There has been a massive push globally for other countries to follow suit. Thousands of people protested in favour of marriage equality. This led to many parliaments passing legislation to legalise same sex marriage.
The UK did this through the enactment of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, 2013 . This was a huge victory for the LGBT+ community. It allows two consenting adults of the same sex to get legally married, whereas previously they could only enter into a civil partnership under the Civil Partnership Act 2004. As great as this legislation is, there are some limitations to this law. Without going too into detail about the wording of the legislation, the main faults with this particular same sex marriage law are as follows:
1.) People who are transgender can only get married after they receive a gender recondition certificate declaring their gender.
This could be discriminatory towards Trans people. If someone got married while they were one gender and then decide to transition to another, their marriage may become void or invalid and they may have to go through a complex legal process to protect themselves and their partner. Also, some transgender people choose not to have surgery or go through hormonal treatment, and this could mean that they struggle to get their new gender identity legally recognised.
2.) Couples of the same sex cannot get divorced using adultery as a grounds for separation and the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is because the statutory definition of adultery includes infidelity with someone of the opposite sex. This means that someone in a same sex marriage could be unfaithful with someone of the same sex and this could not be used as evidence when applying for a divorce or dissolution because the law does not class this as adultery. A person in a same sex marriage would have to rely on the ground of unreasonable behaviour in order to proceed with their application to end the marriage instead.
3.) Surviving spouses in same sex marriage are not entitled to their deceased partner’s pension as surrendering legislation only provided provisions for those in a civil partnership.
The reason why marriage equality is so important is because, without a legal protection, same sex couples are at risk of great injustice.
The current law in England requires couples to be married in order to protect themselves financially if one of them dies without a will. There have been many examples of this resulting in unmarried partners not having the right to inherit anything of their partners. Many people believe this is really unfair, as often couples live together for several years as a married couple but simply don’t have a “piece of paper” AKA a marriage certificate.