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19 January 2016 0 Comments
Posted in Opinion

Court to hear challenge for heterosexual civil partnerships

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A landmark legal challenge claiming the government’s position on civil partnerships is incompatible with equality law is to be heard today in the High Court. Currently civil partnerships are only open to same-sex couples.

The judicial review argues that Section 1 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which restricts civil partnerships to same-sex couples, is incompatible with Article 14 (read with Article 8) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that everyone should be treated equally by law, regardless of sex or sexual orientation

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who describe themselves as feminists and reject marriage as a “patriachal” institution, will pursue their claim against the government’s equalities office on Tuesday.

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition backing them. Their judicial review action will be heard before Mrs Justice Andrews, sitting in London.

Dr Steinfeld, 34, said: “We are taking this case because the UK Government is barring us, and many thousands of opposite-sex couples like us, from the choice of forming a civil partnership, and we want this to change.

“Personally, we wish to form a civil partnership because that captures the essence of our relationship and values.”

She added: “Civil partnerships are a symmetrical, modern social institution conferring almost identical legal rights and responsibilities as marriage, but without its historical baggage, gendered provisions and social expectations.”

Ava Lee, campaign manager of the Equal Civil Partnership campaign, said: “We have received thousands of messages from couples around the country who, for a huge variety of reasons, do not want to get married, but want to celebrate and cement their relationships, and want the same legal protections afforded to married couples.”

The former Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton, has put down a 10 minute rule bill – due to receive its second reading on 29 January – in support of the campaign. It has received cross-party backing from other MPs including Caroline Lucas, Andy Slaughter and Stephen Twigg.

Loughton said: “Opposite-sex couples who do not want to go down the formal marriage route are completely unrecognised in the eyes of the state. With 3 million cohabiting opposite-sex couples in the UK, and 40 per cent of them having children, this is a large body of people and they have few protections if things go wrong, let alone tax advantages rightly now available to same-sex couples who can choose between marriage and civil partnership.

“At a time when we want to do everything to encourage family stability, particularly to help foster strong childhoods, it is absurd that the state has no way of recognising and celebrating these relationships.”

To find out more about the family services we provide, please contact Patrick Hart from our Family Law team today.

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