Challenge against legal ban on heterosexual civil partnerships

The Royal Courts of Justice is set to hear a challenge against the legal ban on heterosexual couples entering into civil partnerships today, 19th January 2016. The 2004 Civil Partnership Act stipulates that only same-sex couples are eligible.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan are pursuing their claim on the basis that the refusal to allow them to participate in a civil partnership amounts to discrimination, breaching their right to a family life under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The couple, who campaigned for same-sex marriage, believe that a civil partnership is a modern, symmetrical institution that best reflects their relationship and values. They argue that any social institution should be open to everybody, regardless of sex or sexual orientation.

There are around three million cohabiting couples in the UK and 40% of them have children. Supporters point out that these couples lack the legal protection afforded to married couples or couples in a civil partnership. Many cohabiting couples believe, wrongly, that they have protection by common law marriage but this does not formally exist and means these couples have little protection should things go wrong.

Those opposing a change say that it would undermine the stability of marriage, that there is no need for an alternative to marriage and very few heterosexual couples would want a civil partnership.

The hearing is set to last 2 days.

For more information, help or advice, please contact our Family team.

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