The Heterosexual Challenge to Civil Partnership

The Heterosexual Challenge to Civil Partnership

28 Jun 2018
The Supreme Court has today ruled on the application of  Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan against the Sectary of State For International Development. 
Rebecca and Charles argued that they were unlawfully refused an opportunity to register a Civil Partnership at Chelsea Town Hall because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 only allows a same sex couples to enter in to a Civil Partnership. They argued that this was discrimination on  the grounds of their sexual orientation and as such was contrary to Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Since 3rd March 2014 same sex couples have had the option of entering in to either a Civil Partnership or a Marriage, whereas different sex couples could choose only to marry.

Rebecca and Charles did not wish to marry for ideological reasons. They view marriage as a patriarchal institution. They want their relationship to be recognised in law and want the same entitlements and protection afforded by a legal institution but prefer the ‘gateway’ of Civil Partnership, to that of marriage.

Today, the Supreme Court found that it had not been  necessary for the government to exclude heterosexual couples from the institution of Civil Partnership. The Government should have eliminated the discrimination that arose upon the enactment of same sex marriage by either abolishing Civil Partnerships altogether, or by allowing different sex couples to choose a Civil Partnership.

This judgement does not oblige government to change the law, but it does make it more likely that the government will now act. We will be watching to see what happens next!

We enjoyed watching Lord Kerr’s 10 minute summary of the Judgement. Click on the link to watch it for yourself