The struggle is not over yet

I am delighted that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can now marry someone of the same sex in England and Wales, and that some religious groups will be able to marry same-sex couples in their places of worship.

Unitarians, Quakers, and Liberal Jews campaigned particularly hard on this, and Derek McAuley, Unitarian Chief Officer, Paul Parker (Recording Clerk, Quaker Yearly Meeting), and Rabbi Danny Rich, should be applauded for their lobbying efforts.

It is a shame that Pagans in England and Wales are unable to marry either opposite-sex or same-sex couples in a legal ceremony, but it looks as if the House of Lords have left open the possibility of humanist weddings, and weddings for other religions too.

Some queer activists have argued that same-sex marriage is just buying into a heteronormative and monogamous paradigm. Maybe it is – I personally do not want to get married – but if my fellow LGBT people want to declare their love before the community, and get the legal package of rights that goes with it, then I support that to the hilt.

There are also still issues with the provision for transgender people, in that marriages previously dissolved on the grounds of a change of gender will not automatically be reinstated.

Polyamorous relationships are still not covered – but at least awareness has been raised about them, although there was a certain amount of throwing poly people under the bus by ‘mainstream’ gay activists.

There will also be considerable legal shenanigans around converting civil partnerships into marriages.

And whilst I am delighted by this victory, and by every advance for equality around the world, we should not forget that thousands of LGBT people around the world still face persecution, and LGBT people are still being deported from the UK despite facing persecution in their country of origin.

According to the Kaleidoscope Trust,

76 countries criminalise homosexual activity. Five continue to impose the death penalty. Governments and parliaments around the world are trying to pass laws that ban gay marriage, send LGBT people to jail or outlaw even speaking out in favour of the human rights of LGBT people.

So – cautious optimism and loud jubilation – but tomorrow, we keep fighting for LGBT rights around the world, and for human rights generally. Until it is safe everywhere to be Black, disabled, LGBT, a woman, or a member of a religious minority, then our work is not yet done.

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About Yvonne Aburrow

Yvonne Aburrow has been a Pagan since 1985 and a Wiccan since 1991. She has an MA in Contemporary Religions and Spiritualities from Bath Spa University, and lives and works in Oxford, UK. She has written four books on the mythology and folklore of trees, birds, and animals, and two anthologies of poetry. She is the editor of the Theologies of Immanence wiki, a collaborative project for creating grass-roots Pagan theology.


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