Supreme court rules that civil partnerships should be opened up to opposite-sex couples

Family Law|Marriage|Relationships|June 27th 2018

With the news breaking this morning that Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have won their claim at supreme court to open up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, Graham Coy, a Partner at the Stowe Family Law London office shares his thoughts on what may prove to be a landmark decision for family law in England and Wales.

“This morning the supreme court delivered a unanimous Judgment and agreed that a heterosexual couple were entitled to enter into a civil partnership.

Until now, civil partnerships have been restricted to same-sex couples.

Rebecca Steinfield and Charles Keidan are in a committed long-term relationship but for deeply held ideological reasons they did not want to marry but they did want to enter into a civil partnership.

Until today they had been prevented from doing so.

They commenced legal proceedings against the government maintaining that the refusal to allow them to enter into a civil partnership was a breach of their Human Rights, and was discriminatory and contravened their right to respect for private life.

The court made it clear that the government had not drawn a fair balance between the couple’s rights on the one hand and the interests of the community on the other.

The government had failed to explain satisfactorily why denying civil partnerships to heterosexual couples could be justified.  The Judgment included a comment that there was no end in sight for the present inequality of treatment upon which the couple had suffered.

The government had created the inequality when same-sex couples were allowed to marry in 2013 and had wrongly prevaricated in doing anything about solving it.

The Judgment includes a Declaration that the status of the law is incompatible with the Human Rights Act.

This does not mean that the government or parliament are obliged to act.  It is a very significant indication that politicians need to look urgently at the current state of the law which discriminates against heterosexual couples.”

Author: Graham Coy

Graham is based at the firm's London Chancery Lane office. His career as a family law specialist has spanned three decades. He is an experienced advocate, mediator and arbitrator who has worked in all areas of family law.

Comments(3)

  1. JamesB says:

    They seem preoccupied with LGBTI.

    When I saw this my first reaction was that the lower courts were stupid as it seems like an obvious decision to me, open them to all, or scrap them (civil partnerships). I thought, and think that they lost as they weren’t establishment with money before now.

    I have a question though, if costs follow the event, then did they win costs? I suppose so, yet if they lost and lost before they didn’t lose their costs? Not sure who the defendant is, the government perhaps. Are the government exempt from being liable for costs?

    On the point, well, well done to them and obviously needed sorting out. I agree with verdict and wish them luck. Would prefer to see these things in place then scrapped. Also don’t like the idea of governments marrying people against their will in the form of common law marriage if you know what I mean.

  2. JamesB says:

    This, then next we need inexpensive prenups please.

  3. JamesB says:

    Then scrap the csa/cmec/cmoptions/cms and I’d be happy, well, at least getting there ;-).

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