Veteran Gay Rights activist and former Labour Party Candidate Peter Tatchell has said the new right of gay people to marry represented “segregation” and has called for further legal changes.
The law, which allows same sex couples to marry, came into force in the United Kingdom on Saturday, with some gay couples marrying at midnight to mark the occasion.
Mr Tatchell, who describes himself as a “human rights activist” and is head of Outrage!, a gay rights group, claims that he rejoiced “that the ban on same-sex marriage in England and Wales is finally being lifted after a campaign for its repeal that lasted 43 years.”
But Tatchell remains unsatisfied with the outcome of the debate on gay marriage, claiming the government should have simply repealed the 1973 act which defined marriage between a man and a woman, instead of creating a new law enabling gay marriage.
On his website he said: “We now have two separate marriage laws – the Marriage Act 1949 for opposite-sex couples and the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 for same-sex couples. This is not equality. It is segregation in law.”
“The 1949 Marriage Act does not require marriage partners to be male and female. The outlawing of same-sex marriage is a recent and historically brief invention by what was a deeply homophobic political and religious establishment.”
He believes that gay marriage was legal in England and Wales under the terms of the Marriage Act because it did not specifically list the gender of those formalising their union. However, only heterosexual couples got married when the act was in force from 1949 until 1973.
In 1973 the government amended the act to make clear only one man and one woman could get married. The change in the law came as a result of Tatchell’s actions at the time, specifically that he encouraged gay couples to test the law.
Stuart Andrew MP, who supported the government’s same-sex marriage legislation, told Breitbart London: “Whilst people are celebrating this historic moment, it is so disappointing to see that some people are never happy.
“Rather than sniping from the sidelines perhaps Mr Tatchell should thank the government for sticking to it’s commitment and celebrate the fact that so many people can now enjoy the fact that their partnerships are recognised as being equal and join in their happiness.
“Anything other than that is just churlish and childish.”
It is not believed the government will make any further alterations to marriage laws.