Marriage and civil partnerships soon open to all?

This week, the Supreme Court ruled that restricting civil partnerships exclusively to same-sex couples is discriminatory, putting the government under significant pressure to allow heterosexual couples to enter into the same unions. The court found unanimously in favour of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, confirming that their human rights had been breached in not being able to enter into a civil partnership.

At present, heterosexual couples may only marry one another, while same-sex couples can either marry or take up a civil partnership. The Government indicated that it would be reviewing the law in light of the judgment, although both sides of the political spectrum have indicated that there is wide ranging support for the existing law to be changed, offering choice to both hetero and same sex couples.

Despite Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan losing their earlier legal challenges at the lower courts, the couple have continued their battle for almost four years. The Supreme Court judges stated that preventing heterosexual couples from obtaining civil partnerships was incompatible with their human rights and amounted to discrimination. The judges went on to confirm that in their view, the Government should have eliminated the inequality when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was enacted back in 2014.

In a joint statement, the couple said: “We have fought this battle not only on our own behalf but for 3.3 million unmarried couples in England and Wales. Many want legal recognition and financial protection, but cannot have it because they’re not married and because the choice of a civil partnership is not open to them. The law needs to catch up with the reality of family life in Britain in 2018.

Serving Bedford and the surrounding villages, together with our office in central London, the solicitors at Hunter and Uro Solicitors can help you with any family law matter, including cohabitation, marital arrangements, separation, divorce or financial matters and orders relating to your children. If you would like to speak to one of our solicitors to discuss your case, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777.


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