High Court rejects straight couple’s civil partnership challenge
A straight couple have failed in their bid to have civil partnerships extended to all couples.
Straight couple Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, had appealed to the UK’s High Court for the right to enter a civil partnership rather than a marriage.
They argued that the law as it stands discriminated against them, but the case was dismissed by Mrs Justice Andrews today.
She said the Government had acted “well within the ambit of discretion afforded to it with regard to the regulation of social matters”.
“Opposite-sex couples are not disadvantaged by the hiatus, because they can achieve exactly the same recognition of their relationship and the same rights, benefits and protections by getting married, as they always could,” she added
She concluded: “The government’s decision to wait and see serves the legitimate aim of avoiding the unnecessary disruption and the waste of time and money that plunging into a programme of legislative reform without waiting is likely to produce.”
The couple have said they wanted to enter a ciil partnership as it “focusses on equality”, and is not tied to the patriarchal history of marriage.
They said they plan to appeal the decision.
Steinfeld said the government was “barring us, and many thousands of opposite-sex couples like us, from the choice of forming a civil partnership.”
Speaking to the BBC she said: “We are very disappointed in the judge’s ruling today, which we think undermines equality in the United Kingdom.
“And we know that that disappointment will be shared in the court of public opinion because we have 36,000 people who’ve signed our change to all petition supporting opening up civil partnerships to all.”
Keidan added “the fight goes on” and there was still a chance “for this wrong to be righted in time”.
The Government said at a hearing earlier this month that it had still not decided on the future of civil partnerships.
It said it intended to wait “to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacts upon civil partnerships before reaching a final decision on the future of civil partnerships”.
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Counsel for the Government, Dan Squires, said ministers had decided it was “not necessary to undertake the costly and complex exercise of extending civil partnerships in the interim where they may be abolished or phased out in a few years”.
The pair contend that Section 1 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, which restricts civil partnerships to same-sex couples, is incompatible with Article 14 (read with Article 8) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that everyone should be treated equally by law, regardless of sex or sexual orientation.
The case has attracted mixed responses from LGBT rights activists.
While veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell is among those to vocally support opening the system up to opposite-sex couples, others are in favour of letting interest in the system decline naturally.
Only a handful of same-sex couples have opted to have civil partnerships since marriages were opened up, putting the system’s long-term future in doubt.