Once implemented, the Act will allow same sex couples to marry, while protecting and promoting religious freedom.
As a first step in the implementation, the Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation on draft regulations on the process for using religious buildings for marriage of same sex couples when they are informally shared by more than one religious organisation.
Justice Minister Lord McNally said:‘Our society will be made fairer and more inclusive by the new laws, which strengthen the important institution of marriage.
‘How and whether a shared religious building can be used for marriages of same sex couples is an important part of the work we are doing to implement the new law. The procedures involved must strike the right balance between protecting religious freedom and enabling organisations which want to carry out marriages.’
Subject to the outcome of the consultation the regulations will set out the process for:
- Applying for and cancelling the registration of a shared building for the marriage of same sex couples; this includes protection for religious organisations who do not consent to the use of the building for same sex marriages.
- Ensuring there is certainty about how a shared building that is registered for the marriage of same sex couples is used.
- How to manage a building registered as a place of worship if it becomes a shared building.
- How to manage the process for when such a building ceases to be a shared building.
- How to manage where the religious organisations sharing the building change.
These regulations will not undermine the principle in the Act that no religious organisation should be compelled to conduct marriage of same sex couples.