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UK: Gay couples denied access to heterosexual divorce laws

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  1. Jock S. Trap 19 Dec 2012, 12:11pm

    This has to be the same for all, or change for all. There can be no divide to the law. Though lets get the marriage legislation through before we even talk about divorce lol

    Joking aside, marriage and divorce has to remain the same for all. the one man one woman argument has been over used and for this case is pathetic since this is a state law. I don’t see the problem here. One law for all please.

  2. A non story unless you know nothing about the legislative process.

    When an Act of Parliament is passed it often contains amendments to other laws, any new marriage law will cover things like divorce.

  3. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Dec 2012, 12:45pm

    Personally, I really don’t care if annulments and non-consummation aren’t grounds for a gay married couple in a divorce proceeding. Just how many hetero annulments and cases of non-consummation have been used in 2012? I’d like to know. I don’t think it’s that common.

    There are other legitimate reasons a gay couple would be able to use such as an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage via physical abuse and violent behaviour, among other things.

    What if a heterosexual married male or female were having an affair with someone of the same sex? Would such an affair receive the treatment as a gay couple? Non-adulterous?

    The Telegraph must be running out of excuses to ban equal marriage if it thinks gay couples are really that concerned about annulments and non-consummation at this point. Get it passed first and then deal with the intricacies after the fact.

    I see no reason why adultery can’t encompass extra-marital activity of any kind no matter the sexual orientation.

  4. Oh look, another story that only applies to England and Wales, but is passed off as being UK-wide.

    The Scottish Government have spoken about this in their consultation, which is open for response now. Most cases of adultery aren’t counted as that under the existing law for heterosexual marriages anyway. It was counted as the reason for just 69 out of over 10,000 divorces in 09/10 in Scotland.

  5. GulliverUK 19 Dec 2012, 1:04pm

    Hang on.

    A heterosexual married man has an affair with another man, or his wife has an affair with another women and … it’s not adultery because that can only happen between opposite-sex couples ?!!

    Seems to me everybody is discriminated by such legislation. So this means a married women whose husband has sex with another man can’t get a divorce based on adultery.

    Isn’t that what the legal definition actually means, or have I got it all wrong.

  6. Equality Network 19 Dec 2012, 1:26pm

    The law on adultery (north and south of the border) is rather nonsensical and archaic. Oral sex is not adultery, for example, so Bill Clinton did not commit adultery with Monica Lewinsky. And same-sex sex is not adultery.

    However, oral sex or same-sex sex, or any sexual infidelity, can be grounds for divorce under the “unreasonable behaviour” rule. There have long been calls from legal bodies to abolish adultery and do it all under the unreasonable behaviour rule. In practical effect there would be no difference. As Gregor noted, the number of divorces using the adultery rule is tiny.

    The plan as I understand it is the same for the UK and Scottish Govts. That is, that adultery law will apply to all marriages, but it won’t be redefined. That’s different from civil partnership, where adultery doesn’t apply at all.

    Do we really want MSPs/MPs and the churches debating what counts as adultery for same-sex sex, given that only penis/vagina penetration counts for mixed-sex sex?

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Dec 2012, 3:55pm

      I wonder how the church would view heterorsexual married person having anal sex with someone of the opposite gender. Adultery or unreasonable behaviour?

      1. Tim Hopkins 19 Dec 2012, 4:24pm

        Conservative churches would call that sodomy. Sodomy used to be a specified ground for divorce in Scotland, but that was abolished decades ago.

  7. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Dec 2012, 1:47pm

    What next, a consultation to change the meaning of ‘adultery’? I’m surprised the bigots in opposition aren’t protesting at the very notion, an aberrant behaviour that they invented and the primary reason why marriage is on the decline. Adultery is an uniquely hetero invention. Instead of opposing equal marriage, why don’t the bigots in opposition look at themselves and get their own house in order and let us get on with our own marriages once they’re legal? It doesn’t affect them one bit or their ability to marry or even procreate in the future as some of them seem to believe. Who on earth caused Sir Roger Gale to commit adultery and remarry twice, already on his third?

  8. That There Other David 19 Dec 2012, 2:18pm

    This is very easy for the government to sort out for both het and gay couples. The new bill is just “The Marriage Act 2013″ and includes a dropping of the legal definitions of adultery or non-consumation. No fault divorce is already implemented, so both terms are obsolete with regards to the law. This is a perfect opportunity to clear them up.

  9. Erm, so how can this be deemed a victory for equal rights if gay marriage is only conditional upon certain diktats and caveats?

    Perhaps now the cat is out of the bag the radical liberal fringe will begin to view the pursuit of gay marriage for what it is:

    inherently illogical, because as the census showed marriage is a dying institution:-

    a distraction, because in most other areas of life people – yes, us included! – are LOSING their rights, privacy and individual freedoms hand over fist:-

    and a total farce, because marriage is ostensibly defined as a union of two souls in the eyes if God, and if the PN boards are anything to go by us gays are the most God-less sectors in society bar none!!

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Dec 2012, 2:56pm

      Radical liberal fringe? Is that the best you can come up with? God doesn’t come into play in a civil marriage which most of us want. StonewallUK did a poll on exactly that earlier this year. 98% of respondents support it as do 60% of the overwhelmingly heterosexual British public according to the Daily Mail of all things. Are they radical fringe liberals too? What about the many chrisitan supporters in the Anglican church?. Show me where in the Marriage Cause Act where marriage is defined in the eyes of God?

      So if marriage is in decline, it would also therefore mean that it would be illogical for heterosexuals to continue marrying. If CPs are enough, peculiar only to the UK with little portability outside the country, why haven’t they become the universal standard anywhere for gay couples? I’ve not seen any hetero public demand for them either. even though I think they should have access for those who’d prefer not to marry.

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Dec 2012, 3:02pm

        Incidentally, in the American state of Massachusetts where equal marriage was first introduced in that country, marriage rates have increased among the heterosexual population, higher than the rest of the country. So th notion that allowing equal marriage will cause significant harm or a drop in hetero marriage is nothing more than a spurious red herring. Heterosexuals such as Tory MP bigots Bob Blackman, Nadine Dorries and Sir Roger Gale are the real threat to marriage. We can’t even get married yet and they’re blaming equal marriage for the state of marriage and other societal ills? Why don’t you spend your time trying to get them to clean up their own filthy house for a change? Leave us alone and let us get on with our lives and marriages that don’t affect you or anybody else. It’s nobody’s business but our own and not for you to say why we shouldn’t have equal access to marriage. That’s a personal decision that you have no right to poke your nose into.

    2. That There Other David 19 Dec 2012, 2:59pm

      Marriage is not defined in those terms at all. Religion does not own marriage, society does. Het couples already get married every single day with no involvement of ritual nor deities. Under the law their marriages are equal to those of people who marry in church/temple/synagogue/mosque/whatever.

      The fact that other rights battles are being thought does not negate the need for this one.

      1. That There Other David 19 Dec 2012, 3:00pm

        fought, not thought.

      2. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Dec 2012, 3:07pm

        Absolutely right! As Theresa May correctly put it, ‘if you don’t want a gay marriage, don’t have one’. Nobody is affected by it except gay couples. It’s our business, not theirs. If straight couples want to live together without marriage, then fine, who am I to say they shouldn’t just because others disagree. The government have no business telling people who they can love or commit to and this is exactly what equal marriage is about, love and commitment, first and foremost. How would heterosexuals like it if they were told they couldn’t marry but had to settle for something that isn’t marriage?

  10. If adultery is abolished as a grounds for divorce, all those adulterous hetero mps and lords and self-righteous pastors and others who love the sound of their own voices won’t be deemed as having done anything wrong. I can’t see that being as solution to the ‘problem’ somehow.

    The trouble is, the law defines adultery purely as a sex act. Surely it is the betrayal and deception that does the damage to a couple of any combination of genders.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Dec 2012, 3:15pm

      Of course, logic and rationality aren’t in the equation are they? Adultery shouldn’t discriminate against either sexual orientation. As I said in a previous post, what if a married heterosexual has a sexual affair with someone of the same gender? Adultery clearly needs to be applied in both cases involving sexual activity of any kind, not just ‘traditional’ biblical penetration.

      This is a minor issue and all we should concentrate on for now is to get equal marriage passed into law. Of course, resolving it prior to the legislative process would be ideal, but things don’t always turn out the way we want them to at first and this shouldn’t be in any way an obstacle to getting it done. It’s just a canard the opposition is throwing at the equal marriage debate. They just don’t want it to happen and from this, it clearly shows just how truly desperate they are. They’re fast running out of excuses since Maria Miller gobsmacked them with the quadruple lock.

    2. Tim Hopkins 19 Dec 2012, 3:16pm

      Not really, because if the adultery rule for divorce was abolished, adulterous behaviour would still be a foundation for divorce under the “unreasonable behaviour” rule. Abolishing the adultery rule would make no practical difference – it’s not needed. I believe that one reason it hasn’t already been abolished here in Scotland is that some of the churches want to keep it because the bible says adultery should be a ground for divorce.

      There is a specific political problem with abolishing adultery as a basis for divorce, in the equal marriage legislation. That is that the opponents of equal marriage are claiming wrongly that allowing same-sex marriage will “redefine” marriage for everyone else. Nonsense of course, but it would play into their hands for the same bill to start making changes to the law that applies to existing mixed-sex marriages. That has been done many times before of course, and no doubt will be again, but the equal marriage bill is not an ideal place to do it.

    3. Tim Hopkins 19 Dec 2012, 3:24pm

      That was an answer to bEnt_Pin, but in answer to Robert, the same problem also applies to extending adultery to cover all sexual behaviour with someone who is not the spouse, as you suggest. That would also change the law as it applies to existing marriages, so could be criticised as “redefining marriage”.

      Since in practice it’s all covered by the unreasonable behaviour divorce ground anyway, I suggest that trying to change the definition of adultery in the equal marriage legislation is more trouble than it’s worth. And that’s without considering the debates that would be had about whether all sexual behaviour should be able to found a divorce. Touching parts of another person’s body through their clothes can certainly count as sexual behaviour in law. Should it count as adultery and be grounds for divorce? If not, how do you come up with a more narrowly defined range of sexual behaviour that does count as divorce?

  11. I can’t decide whether this is just people trying to slow down or stop equality.

    Or whether it’s all down to the Government having badly managed the announcement of this measure.

    1. That There Other David 19 Dec 2012, 3:02pm

      Nope, this is standard practice of people thinking about the implications of a change in the law being put before Parliament. The only difference with this particular proposal is that there are people out there who are DESPERATE to try and magnify every potential identified issue, hence the noise.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 19 Dec 2012, 3:21pm

      It should have been addressed prior to the quadruple lock announcement. It’s clear the opposition is becoming much more desperate, clutching at straws. They just don’t like the fact that Maria Miller called their bluff about the fictitious lawsuits and forcing the CoE/W to conduct our marriages. It was their rallying call and now it’s gone. They’ve been painted into a corner by their own party, a corner where the dunces once sat and there is no way out for them. Nor would they concede they’ve had their wings clipped a bit sharpish. They’ve made utter fools of themselves, laughing stocks. The chickens have finally come home to roost. This is not something they quite bargained for. Not one of the Tory backbenchers has criticized the quadruple lock, they wouldn’t dare. Too late.

  12. Paul from Tacoma, WA 19 Dec 2012, 2:52pm

    What a silly proposed and current divorce laws indeed, the UK lawmakers must be smoking some weird hard illegal pot lately!

  13. the question i have is does this mean straight people can’t use adultary laws if their spouse has an affair with someone of the same sex?

    1. Tim Hopkins 19 Dec 2012, 11:09pm

      Yes it does mean that. They would use the unreasonable behaviour ground to seek a divorce instead.

  14. And what happens if in a gay marriage one partner sleeps with a person of the opposite sex? Is that adultery?

    To avoid any possible discrimination perhaps the phrase ‘Unreasonable behaviour’ could be used instead. This could be applied to all forms of marriage if the word adultery is presenting a problem..

    1. Tim Hopkins 19 Dec 2012, 11:12pm

      Under the proposals, it would be adultery, but not if it was for example oral sex. It would be the nature of the sex, and the fact that the sex was with someone of the opposite sex, that would make it adultery. Whether the marriage is same-sex or mixed-sex would make no difference.

      In other words, the proposal is that the rather limited current definition of adultery will be unchanged, and that, like other laws relating to marriage, it would apply to same-sex marriages just as it applies to mixed-sex ones.

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