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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Capital move for gay couples
Gay men holding hands
Couples will receive certificates confirming registration
Lesbians and gay men living in London will be able officially to register their relationships from September.

The London Partnerships Register, set up by the Greater London Authority, will be open to both heterosexual and same-sex couples where one of them is a resident in the capital.

It is believed to be the first formal recognition of lesbian and gay partnerships by a public body in the UK.

Although it will not confer legal status of the relationship it is hoped that it will be accepted as evidence in any dispute or civil action over tenancy, pension or immigration rights.

Lesbians and gay men contribute to society in exactly the same way as the rest of the population

Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, wrote in the Pink Paper: "There is a long way to go but I am proud that London is playing its part.

"Lesbians and gay men contribute to society in exactly the same way as the rest of the population.

"Yet ... (they) are still treated differently from the rest of the population."

'Deeply-held wish'

Mr Livingstone said that the GLA's research over the past 12 months "indicated a deeply held wish for some form of recognition of same-sex relationships".

People not only wanted to show their commitment to their partner, but it was also "a way of avoiding problems over intestacy, taxation, inheritance rights and family law".

Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone: "Proud to play a part"
Registrations, costing 85, will take place at the GLA's visitor's centre on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

There will also be time for a ceremony and space for up to 25 guests.

Couples will receive a certificate confirming the registration of the relationship, but to preserve confidentiality, this information will not be available to the general public.

Mark Pullen, who has been in a long-term gay relationship for seven years, said it was a step in the right direction.

He said: "It's a shame it's not legal recognition but these things don't happen overnight.

'Symbolic gesture'

"At least you've got some kind of recognition of the time you've spent together."

Peter Tatchell, a gay-rights campaigner, said Mr Livingstone should make the register "more than a purely symbolic gesture".

He wants Mr Livingstone to ensure the partnership rights will apply to employees of GLA-controlled bodies such as Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police.

Gay married couples have been legally recognised in Holland and Germany during the last year.

Mr Tatchell said the adoption of the scheme by other authorities could provide the momentum to push for legislation.

However, the UK Government has said there is no prospect of a potential change in the law being debated during the current parliament.

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