UK Prime Minister pushes for gay rights in Europe

London - Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday he was pushing for gay civil partnerships in Britain to be recognized across the EU, especially in eastern Europe.

During an interview with gay lifestyle magazine Attitude Mr Brown said: “I’m fighting to get all the countries in Europe to recognize civil partnerships carried out in Britain.

“We want countries where that hasn’t been the case – especially in eastern Europe – to recognise them. We’re negotiating agreements with France and then with Spain.”

He said the increased liberties for homosexuals "showed our country is far more tolerant than people thought".

Gay rights campaigners have continued to push for recognition of civil partnership status across the continent.

The legal implications affect issues such as immigration and pensions.

Pushing equal rights across the rest of Europe is now one of the Prime Minister's goals.

"Of course it will be tough, and will take many years, but that has never ever been a good reason not to fight," he added.

Belgium, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands already have same-sex marriages, while civil partnerships are conducted in several EU countries including France and Germany. A law permitting civil partnerships is due to come into effect in Austria on January 1.

But discrimination against homosexuals is widespread in some EU countries, while street marches to promote gay rights have been met with violence, an EU report released in March said.

Britain enacted legislation in 2004 introducing civil partnerships, giving gay and lesbian couples legal recognition of their relationships and allowing them the same rights in areas such as work, pensions and inheritance as heterosexual couples.

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