Current Affairs

Gay and straight couples needed to challenge UK gay marriage ban

Jessica Geen February 2, 2010
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A heterosexual couple are seeking allies to help them mount a legal challenge against the UK’s ban on gay marriage.

Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, both 25 and of Islington, tried to register their intention to have a civil partnership late last year after deciding they did not want a marriage.

As straight people are explicitly barred from civil partnerships, they were turned away by Islington registry office.

The couple have now joined forces with gay rights group OutRage! and prominent legal expert Professor Robert Wintemute, of Kings College in London, to challenge the ban on civil partnerships for straight couples and marriages for gays.

In order to file a joint application, Freeman and Doyle need three gay couples and two straight couples to get on board.

They plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

Freeman told in December that taking the case to the European court would avoid incurring the legal costs which would arise if they fought the case through UK courts.

He said: “It’s now just a people’s rights thing. No one should be kept out of institutions because of their sexuality. Unless someone can tell me a good reason why, it is really divisive. It continues this ‘othering’ of the gay community, and the ‘othering’ of the straight community to gays. It’s just about equality.”

Gay and straight couples who want to join the appeal must be willing to commit to the case for at least five years. They need to have been together for at least three years, feel comfortable talking to the media and have no “skeletons in their closets”.

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, speaking on behalf out OutRage! said: “The aim is to secure full equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free choice, without discrimination.

“Denying couples the right to civil marriage and civil partnership on the basis of their sexual orientation is wrong and has to go.”

The Civil Partnerships Act 2004 allows gay couples almost all the rights of marriage. However, the wording of the law makes no reference to marriage and civil partnership ceremonies cannot be undertaken in a church or by a minister of faith, even for religions which support gay equality. Heterosexual couples are barred from civil partnerships.

If you and your partner want to get involved, email Peter Tatchell at with your names, addresses, phone numbers, length of relationship, ages and occupations.

More: case, Civil partnerships, Equality, Gay, gay rights activist, gay rights group, heterosexual, Katherine Doyle, least five years, London, marriage, partnership, Peter Tatchell, Professor Robert Wintemute, Tom Freeman, UK

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