Supreme Court to rule on civil partnerships ban

Fear that the Government may abolish same-sex civil partnerships



Judges hear case for equal civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples

 “Time for heterosexual equality. End discrimination. Equal options for all.”


London, UK – 14 May 2018

A heterosexual couple, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, are challenging the Government in the UK Supreme Court today, Monday 14 May, in a bid to overturn the ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships, which remain prohibited under the Civil Partnership Act 2004. It permits same-sex civil partnerships only.

The couple have called on the Government to “stop making excuses and open up civil partnerships to everyone now.” They oppose any move by the Government to abolish civil partnerships, as a way to resolve the inequality of the current ban on opposite-sex couples. See Peter Tatchell’s comments below in red.

Rebecca’s and Charles’s petition, calling for equal civil partnerships, has over 127,000 signatures.

 View and sign the petition here:

Speaking outside the Supreme Court before their case begins – surrounded by supporters from across the country – Rebecca and Charles said:

“We have met hundreds of couples like us who love each other and want a civil partnership so they can celebrate their commitment and strengthen the security of their family unit. Their reasons for not wanting to marry vary from bad personal experiences to expense and conscience. All they want is the choice of marriage or a civil partnership to suit them, which is currently available only to same-sex couples.”

Peter Tatchell, LGBT and human rights campaigner and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, has supported Rebecca and Charles from the outset of their legal challenge in 2014.

Indeed, he championed the right of opposite-sex couples to have a civil partnership from the moment Tony Blair’s government announced in 2003 that the option would be available to same-sex couples only, condemning it as “blatant discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

Speaking about today’s challenge in the Supreme Court, Mr Tatchell said:

“It’s time for ‘straight’ equality. The ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships is discrimination and a violation of human rights. It is outrageous that the government is unwilling to legislate equality and that this couple are forced to go to court to get a basic human right – the right to be treated equally in law.

“It cannot be fair that same-sex couples now have two options, civil partnerships and civil marriages, whereas opposite-sex partners have only one option, marriage.

“In 2016, the Isle of Man became the first part of the British Isles to open up civil partnerships to male-female couples. If the Isle of Man can have civil partnership equality why not the UK?”

“In February 2017, the Court of Appeal ruled that the current discrimination in civil partnership law could not continue indefinitely and but in a 2:1 split decision, gave the Government limited extra time to remedy this inequality.

“Alarmingly, in order to end the current discrimination and comply with equality law, the Government is apparently now considering the abolition of same-sex civil partnerships, rather than extending them to opposite-sex couples. This would provoke a huge outcry and backlash within the LGBT+ community. It would adversely affect the 63,000 same-sex couples who’ve already entered a civil partnership, many of whom do not want to have it converted into a marriage; as well as future generations of LGBT couples who’d be forced to choose between marriage or nothing.   

“The Government’s announced in February 2018 that it would undertake further research and consultation on the future of civil partnerships. This appears to be a delaying tactic. Way back in 2012, the government had a huge public consultation on opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. It found 61% in favour and only 24% opposed. So why does it need another consultation?” asked Mr Tatchell.

The outcome of the Supreme Court case could affect 3.3 million unmarried opposite-sex couples and two million dependent children in England and Wales who currently have no legal protections in the case of separation or death and who do not enjoy the alternative of a civil partnership that is available to same-sex couples.

The ECP’s case for opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples:

  1. Extending civil partnerships will provide a legal and financial safety net for couples who don’t want to get married and, if they have any, for their children.
  2. Every person and every couple has the right to be treated equally by the law – the current ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships is unfair and is at odds with that basic democratic principle.
  3. This inequality can be very easily addressed with a simple amendment in Parliament to the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

Further information:

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign:  [email protected] and follow @equalCPs

Find out more about the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign: