A group campaigning for heterosexual access to civil partnerships has expressed solidarity with a lesbian couple who were yesterday told their Canadian marriage could not be recognised in the UK.

A High Court judge told Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson that they can only be recognised as civil partners to respect the “age-old institution (of marriage), valued and valuable, respectable and respected, as a means not only of encouraging monogamy but also the procreation of children.”

But Equal Partnership, a group campaigning for the removal of a clause in the Civil Partnership Act which prohibits straight couples, say their campaign is a mirror image of the court case and shows how “discriminatory” it is to have a “two tier system.”

Campaign founder Bethan Ingram told PinkNews.co.uk, “It’s a mirror image of Sue and Celia’s case, there are things about marriage that people may object to and more importantly it’s a discriminatory and segregation issue.

The group has launched a petition to gather support and remove open up civil partnerships to straight couples.

Ms Ingram said: “There is a huge constituency of people in straight relationships who want civil partnerships, there about 50 names on the petition so far, people who are signing are passionate about equal treatment in society.

“What we hope is that people in the gay community will appreciate we are on the same side, there should be no discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

“Having this two tier system of marriage and civil partnerships doesn’t really benefit anyone, it perpetuates discrimination and segregation.”

She expressed disappointment in yesterday’s result, “We completely support Sue and Celia’s campaign, marriage and civil partnerships should be open to everyone.”