Civil partnership to be made open to all

Civil partnership is to be available to heterosexual couples following the recent Supreme Court case of Steinfeld and Keidan v Secretary of State for International Development [2018]. Many family law practitioners had urged the government to extend the scope of civil partnership after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Steinfeld and Keidan, wherein the court found that there was no justification for the discrimination against heterosexual couples, since legislation was introduced allowing same sex couples to marry.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enabled same sex couples to enter into a civil partnership, although this legislation received royal assent at a time when same-sex couples were not allowed to get married. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 allows same sex couples to get married or convert their earlier civil partnerships into a marriage. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 was not repealed when the 2013 legislation was enacted. Consequently, same sex couples wishing to formalise their relationship currently have a choice as to whether to enter into a civil partnership or to marry. This choice is not available to heterosexual couples. However, the Supreme Court’s ruling of incompatibility of equality does not oblige the government or Parliament to do anything.

The prime minister confirmed at the recent Conservative Party conference that a change in the law would protect the interests of heterosexual couples who want to formalise their relationship without getting married, going on to state,”As home secretary, I was proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage. Now, by extending civil partnership, we are making sure that all couples, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, are given the same choices in life.”

Christina Blacklaws, current Law Society president, said: ‘We have been in favour of extending civil partnership to opposite sex couples for a long time. That’s because we support the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. So we’re pleased to see the government is responding to recent judge-led decisions highlighting the need for changes in the law to reflect 21st century society in this country.”

Serving Bedford and the surrounding northern villages, together with central London, our lawyers can help you with all your family law and separation matters.  If you want to chat to one of our specialist solicitors, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777 and speak with us today.

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