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14 February 2011

Government proposes allowing civil partnerships in religious settings

Churches should not be forced to host civil partnerships against their will, the Evangelical Alliance has said in response to proposals to allow civil partnerships to take place in religious settings, set to be unveiled by the coalition government later this week.

The new proposals would not make holding these ceremonies compulsory, but the Alliance wants to be assured this could not happen in the future.

Dr Don Horrocks, head of public affairs at the Evangelical Alliance, said: "Because we believe religious freedom should be available to all, those who want to hold these services should clearly be free to do so.

"However, history shows that when new rights are given today, they can lead to laws being imposed tomorrow. We don't want to find ourselves in a position where Christians are forced to hold these ceremonies against their will - and against mainstream church beliefs."

Religious groups are expected to be invited to comment on the forthcoming proposals.

Earlier in February the Evangelical Alliance backed the National Marriage Week UK that started in 1997 to celebrate the diversity and vibrancy of marriage as the basis for family life. The week-long campaign is supported by several Christian organisations who hope that events will propel churches to offer more support to married and engaged couples.