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Wednesday, 27 September, 2000, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Is it time gay couples got equal rights?
The UK Liberal Democrat Party has backed a change in the law to give legal recognition to gay partnerships.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Gay couples would have the same rights to things like pensions, tax and adoption as heterosexual married couples.
Same-sex couples in the Netherlands can have an official wedding service, adopt a child and get a divorce. And Vermont in the US has become the first state to approve civil unions for gay couples.
Do you think it's time we legally recognised gay partnerships? Do you think it would help end discrimination against homosexuals? Or are the Liberal Democrats out of step with public opinion? Send us your views.
My parents divorced when I was nine, and my father has since been in a homosexual relationship with his partner. It has done nothing to disturb me, and I think I have grown up to be a very well adjusted young man.
Are we playing a dangerous game on
ourselves? What the researchers are
doing is to alter the course of nature?
What adverse effects will these have
on us? More often than not, these
effects may not be apparent until
years into the future.
Let the mad cow disease be a good
lesson for us. It is time for the authorities
stepped in and draw the line.
Who are we to tamper with what has been created? We should not be trying to change Nature's course. Surely there are enough children out there without parents, and that need a loving home, without trying to create something which is not natural.
Homosexuality is not a choice, therefore it is wrong to suggest that gay parents will make those children become gay. What matters is that children are loved, cared for and given an insight into both straight and homosexual relationships. I am not gay, yet I truly believe that homosexuals deserve the same rights as straight people and to live their lives with the dignity that all individuals deserve.
Angela Revell, New Zealand
Hazel said '(gay people) have children for their own amusement'. I'm sure if you think about that comment you'll realise how ridiculous it is. Gay people have the same feelings and needs as everybody else, they are not dirty or disgusting, they are just people. Get over it.
The only right gays, lesbians, homosexuals, call you them what you like, should be entitled to is the basic right to live without persecution. However, it must realised that their sexual disposition should never grant them any favour above the heterosexual norm.
My partner and I have been together since 1965, in England until 1982, and since then in Canada. Our attitude has always been "We're gay, we're a couple, and if you don't like it, so what?" We live our lives as we want, not to please other people. And after 35 years we're just as much in love, so we must be doing something right!
Absolutely not. You cannot expect people to bring up small children in a society which regards this practice as being normal. It should never be regarded as normal and the message we should be giving to our little ones is that it is absolutely abnormal.
Gay men and lesbians should have the same rights as heterosexuals. After all we pay our taxes to educate their kids.
Being gay is perfectly natural and normal as shown by a recent genetic link. Gay men have also started producing their own children via surrogacy and have a right to a private family life as recently upheld by the European Court.
This has brought all the evil homophobes scuttling from under their rocks. Their ideas are 3000 years out of date. Gay partnerships should be recognised.
Jeanne Rioux, Canada
I think homosexuality is almost generally accepted, now. To give them equal rights will speed this process up. I'm from Holland, where gay marriage is now legally accepted. This is a very good thing and is very close to reality - we can't ignore the thousands homosexuals who are living in this country.
If real benefits currently given to married couples is extended to gay couples there will be nothing to stop any two people of the same sex from claiming to be a homosexual couple and thus gaining the benefits in terms of tax etc. This leaves heterosexual couples living together out in the cold as far as the benefits system is concerned. The best solution is not to extend benefits to gay couples but to remove the special treatment given to married couples.
I was brought up by my natural heterosexual parents. They did a very poor job. If a loving homosexual couple wish to adopt then why not? Any couple that wishes to adopt must go through a tough procedure in order to do so. Providing a loving and stable environment for a child is far, far more important than the sex of the parents.
Last year France adopted the PACS (pacte de solidarité civile) offering gay and heterosexual couples an alternative to marriage. There are no signs of France's having "gone to the dogs" because of this. Why cannot a gay couple enjoy the same rights as non-gays? Perhaps we should stop thinking in terms of gay/ non-gay and remember we are all human beings and a couple is about two people being in love and working together.
I've lived with a gay couple for the last year and I would hate for them to be able to adopt kids. They had no responsibility or commitment, in fact they were the most promiscuous people I have ever met. How do you expect two men to bring up a child, or two women for that case?
To me the issue is not whether gays have the right to marry but that rights afforded to married couples should be extended to all couples living together in long-term relationships regardless of sexual persuasion. Straight couples face almost as many problems as gay couples regarding issues such as pensions, inheritance etc.
I have several homosexual friends and they have no problem with my belief that homosexuality is against nature.
However I do believe that anyone can be what they want to be, I just wish they'd stop trying to tell us all that it is right and proper that they be that way.
Let gay couples marry and divorce, after all marriage is just a legal commitment these days anyway. But I still believe that adoption is not viable. If you are gay you have made a choice, and that choice commits you to not having a child.
I feel completely neutral about gay rights except where children are involved. Financially and legally they should all receive equal treatment. However, I think gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children. Children need to receive both female and male guidance. I lost my father whilst very young and have always felt a terrible void because of it. It is pure selfishness of gay couples to insist on their rights to have children. They are simply trying to break the laws of nature and the children will pay the price
In 1995, my partner of five years died of cancer. His family, from a rural area, treated me poorly, taking him away from our home to care for him in another part of the country (three hours drive from our home) and then threatening to contest his will which left me with a life interest in his estate for the rest of my life. The New Zealand Government is considering legislation which will give all de facto couples (gay or straight) the same property rights when a relationship of three years or more dissolves (a 50-50 split, the same as married couples) and protecting the surviving partner's rights when the other partner dies. For those who say that discrimination doesn't exist I say think again.
There are two ways of looking at this issue. By all means extend rights to gay couples, but let's see those same rights, such tax breaks, extended to unmarried heterosexual couples too.
Alternatively, same-sex marriages could be legally recognised. In this country, it seems that the majority of people do not marry in church for religious reasons, but simply for a pleasant backdrop. There is nothing inherently wrong with homosexual relationships and it's about time we showed more tolerance.
Peter Milosheff, Bulgaria
My partner and I have a stable, loving, and deeply committed relationship; we pay our taxes and otherwise participate in civil society. Why should we not receive the benefits that arise from being a couple? If the European Union and Scandinavian peoples have embraced the idea of unconditional equality for all people, why cannot the USA, Canada, etc?
Gay people want equality - nothing more and nothing less.
We've been vilified, ignored and even murdered in my native country for so long for being what we are that some of us just maybe are no longer interested in what heterosexual politicians may or may not allow us to do with our lives, and have decided to live by our own rules outside of heterosexually ruled society. This debate needs to be brought to those of us with radical opinions, not just asked for by us from straight society.
The Government is promoting 'marriage' in schools (the DfEE Sex and Relationship Education Guidelines), but they say that teachers must not promote any particular sexual orientation. Therefore it follows that the Government, unless they are hypocrites, should be in favour of gay marriages.
I've lived with my partner for nearly three years. We'd now like
some sort of "official" ceremony to demonstrate our commitment
to one another. And why shouldn't we, our family and friends
celebrate? As I type this, my mum is downstairs visiting us on
But more importantly, we want our relationship placed on an equal
footing in the eyes of the law as heterosexual relationships.
We pay our taxes too, and usually more.
We're not religious but we're far more Christian than the usual
bigots and homophobes who've posted here. We judge people for
what they do, rather than who they are.
Are gay people so different from the heterosexual community? Do we not love, hate, start a household as one or endure the pain of separations? Are those facts of life any more different than what the heterosexual community experiences? Shame on those who still think humans are not created equally. Such ignorance has kept me and my partner apart for years because neither of us can sponsor each other to our own countries in order to start our lives together.
A recent study shows that up to 10 percent of any population is homosexual. It means that being gay is not something abnormal. Who are we to condemn gays or lesbians for their decision to marry persons of the same sex? They have been biologically oriented that way so they should enjoy all the rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples. If we deprive them of their rights and deny them of their freedom, then we strip them of their human dignity. It is quite unfortunate many gays and lesbians go into heterosexual marriage because of societal pressure.
The Reverend Neil G. Thomas, UK
Homosexual people have the perfect right to do whatever they like in their own privacy.
However they should not suffer from the same delusion that many deliberately single parents have, which is that they can bring children up in a balanced way. This is to deny the whole difference between masculinity and femininity, and the beneficial influence of both on the child's development.
Ask the police about the behaviour of sons from families with no father. They often simply do not know how to behave.
Adoption is currently evaluated on a case-per-case basis, and homosexuality should certainly not be a negative factor in this. What's important is the ability of the two parents to lovingly raise a child. Marriage is a union of love between two people, and should be allowed no matter the sexual orientation. Any other stance on this is prejudice, pure and simple.
Re: worries that children adopted by gay couples might be ridiculed or
"become gay". A far worse thing parents can do is regularly smoke in
front of their kids, as this doubles the chance of them becoming smokers.
I'd much rather get picked on at school than end up addicted to tobacco.
Society should not discriminate homosexuals, but we should not encourage this kind of behaviour either. The reason is simple: it is not normal - physiologically, biologically, psychologically and socially. I have at least a dozen friends, male and female, who are homosexual. They are very nice people and I am pleased to have known them. I sympathise with them because I know their sexuality is not a deliberate choice.
I think homosexual couples deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples to marry, to adopt children ... and in the United States, to pay extra income taxes if both partners have similar salaries! Why should heterosexual couples have all the fun?
Speaking as someone who went
through civil marriage purely
for its tax advantages, I see no
argument on this level for
retaining the current status quo.
I now live with my girlfriend after 16 years of a lonely and unhappy marriage. The only issue our 3 sons are confused about is why I am not married to my new partner. We both work, pay our dues to society but do not receive the benefits we deserve or hold a recognised status for our children to understand. What is fair in that?
Well we can't seriously discriminate against gays and still claim to be enlightened. Let them marry if they want, it is their personal business. However, I think adoption of children by gay couples should be held back for quite a few years, as society in general is just not ready and the children would be the ones being bullied because of it. Could anyone seriously think that a child of a gay couple could get through school without severe trauma? Kids can be very cruel.
I am a Christian and I firmly believe that gay couples should be allowed to have a civil marriage which gives them the same rights of inheritance, etc that I enjoy. As things stand, a gay couple can have been together for over 25 years (as have several of my friends) and a hospital would not allow them equal visiting rights if one falls ill. Similarly, a couple could have lived together all that time, supported each other through all sorts of ailments and legal hassles and the courts would not recognise the fact.
I am a happily married older gay man. I have been married to my male partner for 22 years.
To achieve this I had to get married abroad. Is this progress 22 years later?
The Liberal Democrats can promise anything as there is not a snowflake's chance in hell of them forming a government.
More political correctness gone mad. Are we allowed to hold onto ANY traditional family values or will they all be stamped out?
Gay people should have the same legal rights as those who are not gay. Marriage carries with it legal rights that no couple should be denied.
For those who believe in the holiness of marriage, the extension of the civil rights and responsibilities now afforded heterosexual couples would be in no way undermined by the inclusion of homosexual couples.
I am of many minds when it comes to this issue. On the one hand, I recognise that homosexuality is handed down biologically and therefore I do not consider it to be a sin in and of itself. On the other hand, homosexuality is definitely one of the infinite number of biological accidents that occurs during reproduction and therefore gay rights advocates need to stop screaming about how normal it is and how bigoted anyone is who questions the embrace of homosexuality in the institution of marriage, which exists primarily to foster further procreation.
Absolutely not! I'm getting married in two weeks and having gone through all the legalities, religion and organisation I cannot possibly see how gay couples can have the same rights. More to the point, why the hell should they?
Reference Yvonne's earlier comments. I was married, now divorced, I'm gay with a regular long term boyfriend. I also have two sons aged 4. Can she please explain why her marriage to her husband is any different (apart from gender) than that I have with my boyfriend? We love and support each other, live together and have done for eighteen months and have many aims and goals together for the future.
Amazing what the Lib Dems will say
to get back in the news!
Steve Dooley, UK
Until someone can show me, in the bible, a reference to "Adam and Steve". The only marriage that should be recognised is between a man and a woman.
In no ways, would I want my children to be given the idea that a gay marriage is equal to the marriage between myself and my husband. Let us keep looking at the wider aspect of implications and consequences to family life, resulting from gay marriages.
The love of two people is more important than any ceremony, official or not. However it is frustrates me that, in the same way that we can all accept different religions, political bias, class and so on, accepting homosexuality is such an issue.
Of course gay people should get equal rights. Bigots should realise that they are in the minority and it is only a matter of time before their narrow minded uninformed opinions are eradicated.
What an absolute disaster this would be if gay relationship had the same rights as a normal relationship of a married man and woman. Our children will be further confused and they will soon hardly know what is right or wrong. A gay relationship is not normal or natural and therefore should not be seen as normal.
Those individuals concerned about children being ridiculed because they have gay parents should consider the consequences on young people growing up with an awareness of being gay, but who are too petrified to seek fulfilment of the basic human desire to love.
It's about time Gay men and Lesbians were treated as equals. No-one chooses their sexuality - it is determined at birth. Therefore, in a civilised, humane society, there should be equal rights for everyone regardless of gender, and a civil type of "marriage" ceremony should be available for any couple who commit themselves to each other. The church will object, but they are completely out of touch with reality anyway!
I think the Liberal party should be commended for standing up for human rights. It has restored at least some of my faith in humanity and prospects for the UK becoming a civilised society. Just what is the problem these bigots have with civil unions? It doesn't affect them - their opposition is pure hatred and prejudice.
It is this lack of tolerance in parents that instils hatred in their children. Now I know what it feels like to be racially or sexually discriminated against, and I beg you, straight, gay or indifferent to allow homosexual people the same rights as every other human in this "democratic" 20th century society.
Jamie Gee, UK
It is only right that people have the decision on their own lives and situation rather than religiously inspired laws.
Marriage is essentially a mode of protection for children. Therefore, it is inappropriate for gay couples. However, I suppose some sort of civil union with financial benefits is reasonable.
I wholeheartedly support the Liberal Democrats decision to provide gay couples with partnership rights. I have lived all of my adult gay life in the knowledge that if something tragic happened to my partner then I would have no legal recognition of our relationship which would simply compound a tragic situation. Why should we be treated differently from heterosexual couples?
Jason Dzikowski, England
No, gays should not be given equal rights to adopt children or get married etc. Has society lost it completely? Imagine being the child of a gay couple, and the obvious abuse that you would suffer at school. It is time for the Government to support the traditional family unit, which is and has been the bedrock of human civilisation since the dawn of time. No modern political correctness can change millions of years of human evolution.
What I can't understand is the intolerance of those who shout for 'gay rights'.
They can't seem to understand that homosexual activity is against natural law, and that they expect people just to give up their religious and moral principles just so that they can do what they want.
Peter Beazley writes that children adopted by gay couples will be confused as they grow up and are "bound to be ridiculed". I find it difficult to imagine how genuine love and affection can be confusing - it seems to be a much more positive message than the neglect and abuse so many children receive from their natural parents. My own two young daughters are doted on by the gay couple who live next door, and think the world of them in return. As for ridicule - I can't deny that there may be some, but only after Mr Beazley and others with his views have finished ridiculing ethnic groups, the disabled, the overweight and anyone else who fails to meet their narrow view of what is "acceptable".
Mark Summerfield, UK
Gay people should have equal rights now, including the right to marry and adopt kids.
I have been in a same-sex relationship for the last 5 years and it would be nice for us to legally have our relationship both recognised and official. Pensions etc are all hot topics that need addressing seriously without blinkered response.
Certainly not. Marriage
is strictly between a man
and a woman. Gays have
no right to muscle in on
this sacred ceremony.
Some people choose to
practice homosexuality so
they must accept that they
are outside normal society.
I think it is time people realised that the way to live in peace is to promote tolerance. The path that the Netherlands has taken is a wonderful opportunity for other countries to realise that there is nothing shameful about love and the events that naturally follow such an emotion.
YES - It's about time that we got the same rights as others. My partner and I should be able to share the same benefits - it's about time this country woke up and smelt the coffee
I do not agree with homosexuality in any way, shape or form. I believe that parties on the left use this subject as a way of showing their radicalism. Children "adopted" by gay couples are bound to be ridiculed when they grow up, and will suffer from being confused themselves in later life.
It is absolutely correct and fair, in today's society, that gay and lesbian couples have the same rights as heterosexuals. After all we do not choose our sexuality, in the same way we do not choose our hair or eye colour. Love is not a crime and it shouldn't be.
Of course. One day, we'll look back on this question with as much incomprehension as (say) "Women: Is it time they got the vote?"
A few years ago a very close friend of mine lost his girl friend, they were not married but they had lived together for over 5 years. When she died her parents who she had not seen for 8 years took control of everything and left him out on a limb.
By all means same sex relationships should be recognised
as being as valid as heterosexual. Marriage is now far more a
legal issue than a religious one. This law also has the advantage
of annoying the sort of people who deserve to be annoyed.
I think there can be no excuse for not giving gay people equal rights. We contribute to the economy equally, if not more than, heterosexual couples and are equally capable of loving, stable relationships.
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