Straight civil partnerships legal after 16-year campaign

London, UK – 30 December 2019


“I am delighted that we have finally won heterosexual equality in civil partnership law. From New Year’s Eve, straight couples will be able to have a civil partnership. This is the culmination of a 16-year campaign, which was begun in 2003 by myself and the LGBT+ campaign group OutRage!” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“Tony Blair’s government bowed to church pressure and banned opposite-sex couples from civil partnerships. Being committed to ending the prohibition on LGBT+ marriage, we argued that it was also unjust to deny straight couples the option of a civil partnership.

“Initially a lone voice, we were eventually joined by people critical of the lack of legal rights for cohabiting couples and of the sexist traditions of marriage.

“OutRage! created the Equal Love coalition to fight for civil partnership equality. We later backed the legal challenges by a heterosexual couple, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who had been refused a civil partnership by their local register office. They eventually won in the Supreme Court in 2018, when the ban was ruled unlawful, unjust discrimination. This prompted Theresa May’s government to legislate civil partnership equality.

“In the Netherlands, where equal civil partnerships have co-existed alongside marriage for two decades, a majority of straight couples get married but about a sixth opt for a civil partnership instead. I would expect a similar take up rate in the UK, especially among young couples who see civil partnerships as more egalitarian and not associated with the religious and patriarchal traditions of marriage,” said Mr Tatchell.