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BRITAIN EASES IMMIGRATION FOR GAY PARTNERS

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The Labour (Socialist) Government of Britain has made it easier for the partners of British citizens' to immigrate to that country. The Tory (Conservative) party fears that "millions" will pretend to be gay in order to qualify.

The new immigration guidelines were announced on 1997-OCT-10. It affects gay, lesbian, and heterosexual common-law couples. This appears to have been triggered by an internal review of regulations regarding unmarried couples, and by the European Commission of Human Rights' recent ruling against the government's unequal age of sexual consent laws.

The previous guidelines required gay or lesbian couples to prove a much longer-standing relationship than heterosexuals were required to do. Home Office Immigration Minister Mike O'Brien said that this bias was "unsustainable and may have breached human rights law." Under the new rules, a couple would have to prove 4 years of co-habitation and prove that their intent was a lifetime committment. They would have to remain together for one year before being allowed to settle permanently. Mike Watson is a spokesperson for Stonewall, the lesbian and gay group that has been pushing for immigration reform, He said "We are very pleased that the Immigration Minister recognises that the policy of the previous Government was unjust and unsustainable...We have had a very difficult struggle for the right to live and love the partner of our choice."

Conservative party member Lord Tebbit, said, "It is clear that the Government's policy is to place sodomite marriage on the same standing as the honourable estate of matrimony. Presumably now we will have to endure a succession of real or alleged homosexual partners being brought in to avoid our immigration rules."

Former Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe was critical. She said that the regulation: "...undermines marriage and undermines immigration control. The Labour party have managed to deal a severe blow at both in one fell swoop."

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