Triple Blow for Traditional Family Values in Britain

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

London ( - Just days after Britain's House of Lords ruled that homosexuals should enjoy the same tenancy rights as married couples, the country's Law Commission said Tuesday homosexuals should be able to claim damages for accidental death of a breadwinning partner.

Additionally the Labor government says it plans to scrap at the earliest opportunity a law that makes it illegal for local councils and schools to "intentionally promote homosexuality."

The developments come as a triple blow to conservatives who fear homosexual and heterosexual relationships are increasingly being placed on an equal footing.

Tuesday the Law Commission - an independent body set up to review the law and recommend reform - recommended that the children, siblings and "long-term partner" of someone killed in a road or workplace accident should be able to claim financial and other compensation.

Currently only members of the immediate family, and unmarried couples cohabiting in heterosexual relationships, have this right.

The Commission said the claimant would have to show financial dependence on the person killed. Its recommendation will now be forwarded to parliament for enactment.

Last week, the House of Lords ruled in a test-case that a man who had been in a long-term same-sex relationship should be allowed to remain in the London apartment he had shared with his late partner, who was the legal tenant at the time of his death.

Martin Fitzpatrick claimed that he had succeeded to the tenancy as a "spouse" or alternatively that he was a member of the tenant's family, but was told to vacate the property.

The success of his appeal to the House of Lords - which cited "contemporary notions of social justice" - was welcomed by the homosexual campaign group, Stonewall, as "the first time that lesbian and gay relationships have been defined as a family."

"All over the world governments and courts are coming to similar conclusions," said Angela Mason, director of Stonewall. "This country has lagged behind the developments. This case and the introduction of the human rights act will give a new chance for lesbian and gay partners to achieve recognition."

Another move expected soon will cheer the homosexual lobby, as one of its pet hates, Section 28 of the Local Government Act, looks set to go.

The law bans the promotion of homosexuality by schools and councils - in council-run public libraries, for example - as well as the promotion "of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."

When introduced by a former Conservative government in 1988, it sparked protests by homosexuals who claimed it encouraged prejudice, while supporters argued it protected vulnerable youngsters and upheld the traditional family.

The scrapping of section 28 has long been on Labor's agenda, and will be speeded up by an announcement at the weekend that the executive of the devolved Scottish Parliament will abolish it in Scotland early next year.

It's expected Prime Minister Tony Blair will include an announcement on repealing the clause in the forthcoming Queen's Speech, in which government policy is outlined each year.

The House of Lords, which has twice stalled Labor legislation aimed at lowering the homosexual age of consent from 18 to 16, is expected to apply similar opposition to the initiative to scrap Section 28.

The government has already indicated its intention to push through the age of consent amendment by invoking a rarely-used law which enables lawmakers in the elected House of Commons to override the upper chamber.

Conservative lawmaker Julian Brazier said the law should be retained, because it prevents schools and councils from "actively promoting homosexual lifestyles to young children."

And House of Lord's Conservative member, Lord (Norman) Tebbitt, said the repeal of the section would open the way to "arguing in schools for the equivalence of homosexual and heterosexual relationships."

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow