Couple Challenge Civil Partnership Restrictions

A couple are planning to launch a legal challenge against the ban on members of the opposite sex entering into civil partnerships. The current laws, they believe, are discriminatory against heterosexual individuals and fail to offer a viable alternative to the ‘patriarchal’ system of marriage. Should this case eventually reach the court, it is believed to be the first attempt in the UK to make partnerships available to heterosexual couples.

Currently, under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, only same-sex couples are eligible for Civil Partnerships. The couple, who are filing a judicial review at the High Court in London, are aiming to extend this right to heterosexual couples, but such an action has been met with mixed opinions in the past; most notably in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, for instance has been cautious of endorsing the issue, arguing that it could potentially undermine the institution of marriage.

Despite this however, a Private Members Bill was launched by the Member of Parliament for East Worthing and Shoreham, Tim Loughton, last year to remove the words ‘same sex’ from the 2004 act. Mr Loughton said: ‘The law needs to recognise that those people are in a legitimate relationship, they need to recognise that within the tax system and they need to give stability the children who are growing up in those relationships. This is not about undermining anything. This is about bringing stability to loving couples’.

Universal access to civil partnerships is not a new idea however, and is in fact already in operation in other countries. The Netherlands, for example, established the ‘registered partnership’ law in 1998, giving both same-sex and opposite-sex couples the right to enter into a civil partnership.

Regardless of the outcome however, the Judicial Review represents an inevitable legal collision that has been pending for some time. The Civil Partnership Act, which is restricted for same-sex couples, and the Equality Act, which prevents public institutions discriminating on the grounds of sex, are evidently incompatible in their current states and a ruling is required to harmonise these two conflicting areas of law.

If you have any questions regarding civil partnerships or marriage, feel free to give us a call on 01536 276300. Our team of highly trained, legal professionals have a wealth of experience in family law and provide clear, easy to understand legal advice at low sensible fees.