Heterosexual couple lose civil partnership court challenge
Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld from London have today lost their High Court battle. They wanted to enter into a civil partnership rather than get married, as they feel that marriage is a patriarchal institution and would prefer to enter into a civil partnership. The High Court decided that the couple cannot enter into a civil partnership because only same-sex couples can do so. Being married or in a civil partnership conveys exactly the same legal rights and responsibilities, but only marriage is available to both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
Civil partnerships were introduced in 2004 to allow same-sex couples to formalise their relationships and acquire all the same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples. In 2014 the government brought in a change to the law to allow same-sex couple to marry, but the government made no changes to the law in relation to civil partnerships. The same-sex marriage legislation was brought in under the banner of equality, but we are now in the somewhat bizarre position whereby same-sex couples have more choice as to how to formalise their relationships than heterosexual couples. This is the point Mr Keidan and Ms Steinfeld tried to argue in the High Court, but it was rejected.
Mrs Justice Andrews held that the current legislation does not infringe their right to a private and family life, enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The judge also held that they have the option to have a civil marriage ceremony and thereby avoid any of the elements of marriage with which they disagree. Mr Keidan commented that "the fight goes on" and there was still a chance "for this wrong to be righted in time", so we will wait and see whether they appeal.
The government has said they will review civil partnerships once more information is available about how many are still being entered into, in light of marriage now being available to same-sex couples.
We will have to wait and see how this develops; I dare say it won't be long before this issue crops up again!
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