British Government writes to foreign countries to ask for gay rights clarification

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

The British Government has asked for clarification on whether 70 foreign jurisdictions recognise marriages between same-sex couples performed in the UK.

Equalities minister Jo Swinson has written to authorities across the globe asking them to clarify their position on gay rights who work there, or are travelling abroad.

Those in Swinson’s list of recipients include Australia, Chile, Israel, South Africa and all 50 US states, reports the Guardian. 

She also urged countries which intend to make changes to legislation to take into account that England, Wales and Scotland now allow same-sex marriage, to do so.

She said: “One of the things we committed to do in the coalition agreement is recognising that for gay people who are in a civil partnership or now have got married, and who are travelling, working or studying abroad, for them to know what their rights are in that country and ideally to have their partnership or marriage recognised would make a big difference.”

Despite the list of countries which are to recognise same-sex marriages from the UK is short, Swinson said there were currently no plans to urge other jurisdictions to recogise them.

She did say that the Foreign Office was urging diplomats from the UK to raise the issue abroad.

“They obviously make a degree of local judgment about when is the right time to raise these issues. Sad to say, there are plenty of countries where LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights are in a dreadful state and the people in those countries themselves suffer greatly, and I’m not going to have rose-tinted specs to think that those countries are going to rush to recognise our same-sex marriages.

“But there are plenty of countries that do have a much more positive approach, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t recognise our partnerships.”