Equality activists take civil partnership battle to appeals court

Couple seeks to overturn ban on different-sex civil partnerships

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Equality activists took their fight for different-sex civil partnerships to the Court of Appeal today as they seek to overturn the government’s ban.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan are campaigning for civil partnerships to be open to different-sex couples after they were denied the union in 2014.

The couple were joined by demonstrators outside the Court – including human rights activist Peter Tatchell and the Deputy Leader of the Green Party Amelia Womack.

Steinfeld and Keidan’s legal team are arguing the ban on different-sex civil partnerships is unfair because it treats people differently based on their sexuality.

Speaking before the hearing, Rebecca Steinfeld said:

“We are going to the Court of Appeal on behalf of ourselves and the more than 70,000 people who have signed our petition calling for civil partnerships to be open to all.

It’s not for the government to dictate how couples choose to formalise their commitment, but it is for the government to ensure all couples are financially and legally protected.”

Charles Keidan said:

“The government has everything to gain by opening civil partnerships to different sex couples.

Civil partnerships offer the possibility of legal protections and family stability for three million unmarried couples – the fastest growing family type in the UK.

Civil partnerships already exist for same-sex couples. It would now be fair, straightforward and popular for the government to extend them to everyone.”

The couple were also backed by Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, who helped to steer equal marriage through parliament in 2013, as well as author and campaigner Owen Jones, who said:

“Many people don’t like the historic baggage of marriage and everyone should have the right to express their love in a way that works for them.

I want equality for everyone and that means giving mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership.”

At the rally outside the Court, the Greens’ Amelia Womack told campaigners:

This is about equality and everyone’s right to choose the type of union that works for them.

There are many reasons why people don’t get married and many why they’d want to get a civil partnership instead, and it’s time that was respected.

Equal marriage was a huge step forward for equality. Now it’s time for equal civil partnerships too.”

This afternoon the London Assembly voted to back the unions following a motion by the Greens’ Caroline Russell AM.

Keidan and Steinfeld’s case was taken to the Court of Appeal after an earlier case in January was refused – however the Judge said there was a ‘wider public interest’ at stake and that it was an issue ‘many would sympathise with’, granting the right to appeal.

Since the first ruling, different-sex civil partnerships have been introduced in the Isle of Man, with the first civil partnership for a heterosexual couple taking place on the 14 October.

On the 21 October, Martin Loat and Claire Beale became the first different-sex couple from the UK to get a civil partnership in the British Isles when they flew to the Isle of Man for the ceremony, with Loat saying:

“We had a wonderful time visiting the Isle of Man but for many people living in the UK this simply isn’t an option. People should be able to get a civil partnership near their home and their family.”

The case is being backed by the Campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships, a group set up by those affected by this case, with the final Court of Appeals decision being made potentially by the end of the year.

Josiah Mortimer is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

See: Five reasons David Cameron should not be LGBTQ ‘Ally of the Year’

9 Responses to “Equality activists take civil partnership battle to appeals court”

  1. David Lindsay

    Good luck to them. There is a perfectly reasonable case for civil partnerships to be available to opposite-sex couples. It is not as if those couples would otherwise be getting married. Never having needed to be consummated, civil partnerships ought not to be confined to unrelated same-sex couples, or even to unrelated couples generally.

    That would be a start, anyway.

    Any marrying couple should be entitled to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 with regard to grounds and procedures for divorce, and any religious organisation should be enabled to specify that any marriage that it conducted should be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly. Statute should specify that the Church of England and the Church in Wales each be such a body unless, respectively, the General Synod and the Governing Body specifically resolved the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses. There should be similar provision relating to the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy.

    Entitlement upon divorce should be fixed by Statute at one per cent of the other party’s estate for each year of marriage, up to 50 per cent, with no entitlement for the petitioning party unless the other party’s fault were proved.

    Am I trying to go back to the 1950s? To which features of the 1950s, exactly? Full employment? Public ownership? The Welfare State? Council housing? Municipal services? Apprenticeships? Free undergraduate tuition? All of those things were bound up with things like this. That they have all been eroded or destroyed together has not been a coincidence. It is not called neoliberalism for nothing.

  2. CR

    I never understood why we don’t allow civil partnerships and marriage to all couples.

  3. Mick

    Phew, talk about an absolute, damn waste of time, and utter joyless petty and pointless exercise of no real consequence except to the pair of them.

    Woo, sounds like another left wing hobby horse to ride!

  4. Mick

    “I never understood why we don’t allow civil partnerships and marriage to all couples.”

    CP was brought in to appease the more militant of those in the gay lobby. It always was a watered-down half-measure, which is why gays then demanded the full whack, marriage.

    Now we find silly heteros wanting to downgrade their own status, just as gays were finding the same option beneath them!

    Still, none so queer as folk, I suppose.

  5. Richard

    “Phew, talk about an absolute, damn waste of time, and utter joyless petty and pointless exercise of no real consequence except to the pair of them.”

    it doesn’t matter to you – that’s fine – but it does matter to some people. what is your objection?

  6. Ian

    Mick, 70,000 people have supported their petition. I was one of them. It’s not just “the pair of them”.

    It’s not about it being ‘beneath’ anyone, it’s about equal treatment under the law, an absolute basic right for all citizens. No one is equal until we are all equal, which is why huge numbers of people from the LGBT+ community have also supported the equal civil partnership campaign.

    Your gay puns are offensive.

  7. Mick

    “Your gay puns are offensive.” Take it to Channel 4! Their QUEER AS FOLK’s on DVD now!

    Besides, everyone else was supposed to be the majority to ‘check our privilege’. We in the ‘everybody else’ community have nothing to worry about on this one! Hence, most of us don’t!

    Those luckless souls in Syria have the worries!

  8. Ian

    Good grief. Will you be using the N word next?

  9. Mick

    Dunno. Are the Left ninnies?

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