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British gay marriage bill clears key hurdle

The first gay marriages in England and Wales are set to take place in 2014 after the legislation passed through parliament’s upper chamber the House of Lords on Monday. Jubilant gay rights activists cheered outside parliament as the bill cleared unopposed, while gay lawmaker Lord Waheed Ali told colleagues in an emotional speech: ‘My life and many others will be better Tuesday than it was Monday.’

The government-backed legislation now passes back to the lower House of Commons for final debates on Tuesday, but they are expected to be little more than a formality. A spokesman for the culture ministry, which is overseeing the legislation, said the bill would probably receive official assent from Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state, on Wednesday or Thursday.

‘But we are looking at seeing the first gay weddings in the middle of 2014 because there are various issues to sort out, such as its impact on pensions,’ the spokesman told AFP.  Supporters of the bill in the House of Lords wore pink carnations, while gay marriage activists danced outside the Houses of Parliament. Gay rights activists have vowed to press on for equal marriage in Britain’s other constituent nations, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the new law would ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people felt ‘recognised and valued, not excluded. The legislation represents ‘the kind of open, modern, tolerant and diverse society we want Britain to be in the 21st century,’ he said
Agencies

Agencies

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