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Heterosexual Couple vs Civil Partnership Act

26th January, 2016

The ban on opposite sex couples entering into a civil partnership is to be challenged by a feminist London based couple – Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan.

Marriage is seen by some as a beautiful, memorable ceremony. Rebecca and Charles however reject marriage as an institution where males have historically had dominance and women have been exploited.

The couple have recently had a child and want to raise her as equal partners and believe a Civil Partnership is a modern and even alternative to marriage that best suits their beliefs.
The case is being brought on the grounds that refusing to allow them to participate in a civil partnership is discrimination and breaches their right to family life under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The hearing will last two days at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

More than 33,000 signatures have been obtained on a petition to support the couple, and they have also attracted the attention of former Tory children’s minister Tim Loughton; Who has put down a 10 minute rule bill in support of their campaign, also aimed at the removing of ‘same sex’ from the 2004 act.

The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “Equal partnerships are a matter of equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. Some opposite sex couples don’t like the sexist history and connotations of marriage. They’d prefer a civil partnership. To deny them that option is discrimination”.

Steinfeld and Kiedan did try to hold a civil partnership ceremony despite the wording of the Act. In October 2015, they arrived at Chelsea Town Hall registry office. Whilst the registrar was apparently very sympathetic they were told that as they were the opposite sex, to provide them with a civil partnership would go against the rule of the 2004 Civil Partnership Act which specifies only same sex couples are eligible.

Those opposing changes to the act have commented that a Civil Partnership for heterosexual couples would challenge the stability of marriage; they also suggest that there is no need for an alternative to marriage and that only very few couples would want a civil partnership.

The outcome of the hearing will be interesting to see as it could be a new opportunity to heterosexual couples and an alternative to marriage and at long last it could provide some financial security for cohabiting couples in an environment where otherwise, the “Common Law Wife” as often wrongly referred to can have very few rights.

For advice on these and other matrimonial matters contact Sandy Edwards on 01743 453689 or email [email protected].

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