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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007, 20:29 GMT
University in 'gay weddings' row
St Martin's Priory
St Martin's Priory, Canterbury is licensed to hold civil marriages
A university's governing body is at loggerheads with students and academics over its decision not to allow same sex "weddings" on its premises.

Canterbury Christ Church University does not allow civil partnership ceremonies at two properties it owns in Canterbury and Tunbridge Wells.

The policy came to light because the Equality Act will make it illegal to refuse services on the basis of gender.

The governors are due to debate the issue before the law changes in April.

The Equality Act 2006 is the same legislation which has brought the Catholic Church into conflict with the government over adoption by gay couples.

'Out of touch'

Canterbury Christ Church was founded by the Church of England.

Vice Chancellor Michael Wright said it followed the Church's position of welcoming civil partnership but not regarding it as the equivalent of marriage.

But members of the students' union told BBC South East Today the vice chancellor and the governing body were out of touch with public and student opinion.

Professor of Inclusive Education, Tony Booth, said he was aghast to discover the policy.

"I could hardly believe that my university was indulging in this gratuitous act of bigotry," he said.

'Participate in debate'

The university owns St Martin's Priory in Canterbury and Salomons in Tunbridge Wells, both licensed for civil marriages.

"Legislation due to come into force in April makes it clear that venues such as the university which offer their premises for civil marriages must also do so for civil partnership ceremonies," said Professor Wright.

"The governing body has a preliminary discussion on the matter in December 2006 and agreed to have a full debate and make a final decision at its next meeting in March.

"Staff and student representatives will naturally be entitled to participate in the debate."




SEE ALSO
Q&A: Gay adoption row
29 Jan 07 |  UK Politics
Adoption decision 'due next week'
25 Jan 07 |  UK Politics

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