Same-sex couples will not be able to hold civil partnership ceremonies within Church of England buildings despite the Government giving the go ahead for such celebrations to be held in places of worship for the first time.
The Equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, announced yesterday that the ban on same-sex ceremonies in religious buildings would be lifted on 5 December.
No religious community will be forced to conduct the ceremonies but those that wish to can apply by the end of the year. Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism have all said they would like to hold same-sex blessings. But a spokesman for the Church of England said it had "no intention" of lifting the ban.
"The House of Bishops' statement of July 2005 made it clear that the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register civil partnerships and that remains the position," the spokesman said.
The gay rights group Stonewall welcomed the new rules as "a clear signal of how far we've come".