Scotland: Marriage in 2014, just!

equal marriage scotland logo

equal marriage scotland logoThe Scottish Government has at last announced the date for the first same-sex marriage ceremonies in Scotland: 31st December 2014!

Same-sex marriage will be legal in Scotland from 16 December, but that is only the date from which couples can submit notice that they intend to get married. There is a standard 15 day notice period for registering marriages in Scotland, so the earliest wedding ceremonies will be allowed happen on 31 December. That said, couples with extenuating circumstances may be able to get a shorter notice period by applying to the Registrar General.

Same-sex marriages can be performed by registrars and by religious and belief bodies that agree to do so. Quakers, the Unitarians, and the Humanist Society Scotland are expected to take up this opportunity to celebrate relationships.

If you want to convert your civil partnership to marriage you will be able to do so from 16 December. As with Wales and England, converting an existing civil partnership will be free for the first year of the new law.

The Equality Network offer some top tips for those who want to be among the first to get married:

“If you want to be one of the first to marry, or to change your civil partnership to a marriage, we strongly recommend that you contact your local registry office asap to book a date and talk about the practicalities involved.

“If you want your marriage performed by a religious or humanist celebrant, make arrangements with them first and then contact the registry office about submitting notice. You will not be able to submit your marriage notice form or convert your civil partnership before the 16 December, but you can book a date and prepare arrangements in advance. We expect the first few months of the new law will be a very busy period for registry offices, so if you don’t book early you may have to wait a while for an available date.”

Equality Quango Erasing Bis?

Equality & Human Rights Commission logoIs the Equality & Human Rights Commission erasing bisexuality and neglecting the need to tackle biphobia?

The government has announced work on tackling biphobia, transphobia and homophobia and finding the best ways of doing so from the many projects that have been tried around the UK in recent years, to change the bullying culture that is still too prevalent in many schools.

The Equality & Human Rights Commission has put work on those issues out to tender – but the “B” seems to have dropped out the moment this project moved from government to quango, as what they say they are looking for in their listing for the tender is:

Purpose of this Project is to encourage greater reporting of homophobic and transphobic hate crime through advice and support to LGB and T communities (particularly in rural areas or where isolation exists or where reporting is notably low) and closer working relationships across criminal justice agencies and LGB and T organisations in tackling hate crimes.

BCN magazine have challenged them on this: editor Jen Yockney told us, “If this is meant to include biphobia and bisexual communities, it’s a bad sign that the Commission felt they could drop that word. If it’s accidental omission, it would be interesting to know how often they have equally accidentally missed out homophobia or lesbian and gay from materials meant to cover all of LGB or LGBT. I suspect never!”

The Commission has yet to respond.

Equality minister welcomes Bi Visibility Day

Jo Swinson MP

Jo Swinson MPEquality minister Jo Swinson MP welcomed the sixteenth Bi Visibility Day this morning, saying:

“I’m proud that this has been a momentous year for LGBT equality. The first marriages of same-sex couples have taken place in England and Wales, and the UK has once again been ranked number one in Europe for LGBT rights.

Sadly some prejudice remains, which is why I’m very pleased to welcome Bi Visibility Day. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the lives and experiences of bisexual people throughout the country and tackle the barriers and challenges they can face.

I hope that Bi Visibility Day 2014 is a great success and gets more people thinking about the B in LGBT.”

As Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs and for Women and Equalities, Jo is the Lib Dems’ equality minister in the coalition government. So far we’ve not heard anything about Bi Visibility Day from Conservative opposite number Nicky Morgan, but the day’s not over yet…

Backbencher bids to extend Civil Partnership

photo: Houses of ParliamentConservative MP for East Worthing & Shoreham Tim Loughton will tomorrow propose the extension of Civil Partnerships to mixed-sex couples.

The proposal is a very short Private Members Bill that would simply remove the words “same-sex” from the original 2004 Act

Loughton voted against same-sex marriage last year, writing to a constituent as Minister for Children and Families that, “for me, marriage as a religious institution cannot be anything other than between a man and a woman, and particularly when all the rights and responsibilities of marriage are available to non-heterosexual couples through civil partnerships.”

Bi Community News editor Jen Yockney told BiMedia: “It may have come from an unexpected quarter but this would be a welcome reform, largely restoring the Civil Partnership legislation to the original Bill as proposed in 2002, which the government of the time rewrote to exclude mixed-sex couples.”

“The BCN reader survey two years ago showed strong support from bis for this change.”

Find out more about the progress of the Bill here.

20 Years On, Mancs Are Still Bi

20 years to the day...

20 years to the day…

Manchester-based bi organisation BiPhoria is celebrating its 20th birthday – their first social / support evening for bisexual folk and those who think they might be bi was held on the 1st September 1994.

It’s the UK’s longest-running bisexual group: there were others before it, but those have fallen by the wayside in the intervening decades.

BiPhoria on the Manchester demo

The group is active socially, academically, educationally and politically

Group convenor Jen Yockney told BiMedia, “My first time along at the group was three months later at the December 1994 meeting. I think it was fortunate both in the enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteers who have been there over the years keeping it alive, and also in being a mixed group in a city that has a vibrant queer culture.”

Manchester’s queer culture hasn’t always helped the group: the city council is proud of its progressive record on lesbian and gay rights in the 80s but had the non-existence of bisexuality as a matter of council policy in the 90s and 00s.

At the time the group formed many bi groups were gendered – men’s or women’s bi spaces – but the early 90s was when the bi movement in the UK started to get to grips with gender diversity and building welcoming spaces regardless of gender identity.

BiPhoria has been the cornerstone to work including bi social and support spaces, political activism (lobbying local and national government as well as highlighting biphobia on the local gay scene), and research publications on bi needs and mental health. Earlier this year the group led the Manchester LGBT demo about the Sochi winter Olympics for half of the march, alternating with the Lesbian & Gay Foundation.

Tomorrow, BiPhoria will celebrate its 20th anniversary meeting. We expect there will be cake.

Happy birthday BiPhoria. Give ’em a birthday retweet on Twitter here.


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