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Same-sex couples in England and Wales tying the knot

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force in England and Wales last July but it was not until 13th March 2014 that couples were able to register their intention to marry under the Act for the first time.  The first same-sex marriages took place on 29th March 2014.  The Prime Minister hailed the introduction of gay marriages in England and Wales as “historic” and offered his “…best wishes to those about to be (married) on this historic day”.Scotland has followed suit with same-sex marriages expected to occur this Autumn. 

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Private hotel owners who operate a heterosexual married couples only policy did not have their rights to religious beliefs breached.

Mr and Mrs Bull own a private hotel in Cornwall. They have strong Christian beliefs. They have a policy that states only ‘heterosexual married couples’ can hire a double room.
Mr Hall and Mr Preddy are a homosexual couple. They had hired a double room over the phone (at which stage they were not told of the double room policy). When they arrived at the hotel, they were informed that they would not be able to avail of a double room.

The couple took legal action on the grounds that they had been discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation.

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Dozens of arrests in Nigeria as anti-gay laws come into force

The President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on 07th January 2014. The legislation criminalises same sex marriage and individuals are liable for a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment. This legislation also criminalises membership of an LGBT organisation. Membership of such an organisation can be for up to 10 years.
The Nigerian legislation was passed shortly after Uganda passed its own Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry has denounced the spread of anti-gay legislation in the region.

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India re-states ban on gay sex

In 2009 the Indian High Court passed judgment that decriminalised gay sex. The case itself continued through the justice system and reached the Supreme Court. The challenge to the High Court’s decision was taken by a combination of Christian and Muslim religious groups, and a far right politician. In December 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the High Court’s decision and reinstated the ban on homosexuality.

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Australian High Court overturns state law on same sex marriage

In October 2013, the state legislature of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) had passed legislation allowing for same sex marriages. The law allowed same sex couples from all over Australia to be married in ACT. In 2004, The Federal government had passed legislation defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The High Court held unanimously that the ACT law could not stand alongside the national law that had already been passed. It stated that the national legislation as it stands only allows for marriage between a man and a woman.

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Decision by London Transport to carry pro-gay adverts on buses threatens to re-activate legal proceedings

In previous editions of the Update, we referred to a judicial review brought on behalf of a Christian organisation. The challenge related to a decision by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to refuse to allow London buses to carry adverts that claimed gay people could be ‘cured’. These adverts were modelled on the Stonewall pro-gay advert: ‘Some people are gay. Get over it’.

The High Court upheld the Mayor’s decision to ban the adverts. However that decision is currently subject to appeal. The appeal itself is scheduled to be heard at the start of December 2013.

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