British MEPs not signed up to civil partnerships recognition across EU

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Campaigners for equal recognition of gay marriage and civil partnerships across the EU have said that not all British MEPs are signed up to their cause.

Among those who are not yet supporting a European Parliament initiative are Robert Kilroy-Silk, Tories Timothy Kirkhope and Ian Hudghton, UKIP MEPs Gerard Batten and John Whittaker and Labour MEP Peter Skinner.

Family law remains a matter for the member states and not the EU. At present some EU nations, such as Spain and Belgium allow gay marriages.

The UK has same-sex partnerships, a system that will be introduced in the Republic of Ireland.

Other nations such as France have registration systems that give gay and lesbian couples some rights.

The French pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) is fully recognised in Britain, but France does not recognise UK partnerships.

The UK and French governments are currently negotiating a solution.

Any EU-wide agreement on the issue of same-sex recognition would require a consensus among the 27 member states.

Given that politicians in Latvia, Poland and Lithuania are openly homophobic, such an agreement seems unlikely.

The issue of cross-border recognition was raised in the European Parliament last month.

A declaration has been tabled on the issue. If it is signed by more than 50% of MEPs it will be adopted as a resolution.

It calls for “member states with existing same-sex partnership legislation to recognise the arrangements of other member states that have also made provisions for same-sex partnerships,” and for “guidelines for such mutual recognition by member states with existing same-sex partnership legislation.”

Resolutions are formally adopted by the European Parliament and forwarded to the Commission, Council and member state governments for consideration.

So far less than 10% of MEPs have signed up.

Members of the European Parliament will be up for election in June 2009.

The UK will lose six of its 78 seats if the Lisbon treaty has not come into force as part of a re-apportionment because of the new member states since the last election in 2004.

If the Lisbon treaty has been approved the UK will lose five seats.

The European Parliament declaration has a lapse date of 15th January 2009 before which it must attain the signatures of 393 MEPs in order for it to be adopted by the European Parliament.

Although there is no legal obligation for the Commission to act on the recommendations made in the declaration, the political weight of the European Parliament demands that they respond.

A UKIP MEP has already refused to back the declaration:

“I have no wish to interfere with the internal procedures of other countries and wish that unelected bureaucrats stopped imposing alien legislation on mine,” Tom Wise said in an email to a constituent.

“Perhaps we all should respect local customs and laws, rather than imposing our views on our hosts.”

At present gay and lesbian couples who have legal same-sex marriages or unions are being denied their rights to move and reside freely within the EU.

14 EU member states do not give full residence and entry rights to gay and lesbian couples.

They are: Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus, Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.