UK: Heterosexual couple loses legal battle for civil partnership

London: A heterosexual couple in Britain has lost its court battle for the right to enter into a civil partnership, an alternative to marriage that is reserved for same-sex couples in Britain.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan. Reuters

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan. Reuters

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who objected to the "patriarchal baggage" of marriage, wanted to secure legal recognition of their six-year relationship but were prevented because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 only applies to same-sex couples, The Independent reported on Tuesday.

Heterosexual couples should not be allowed to enter into civil partnerships with one another, the Court of Appeal ruled.

The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, and have a 20-month-old daughter, said the government's position is "incompatible with equality law".

The 2004 Civil Partnership Act allowed same-sex couples in Britain to enter a legal partnership for the first time. It conferred almost the same legal rights as traditional marriage, except for the right to marry in a religious setting. Same-sex civil partners did not have the right to declare themselves "married" for legal purposes.

Britain legalised same-sex marriage in 2013, but retained civil partnership legislation.

Two of the three judges hearing the case at the Court of Appeal said the government should have more time to evaluate the best way forward on civil partnerships and marriages, while the third judge said the law needed to be changed immediately, according to The Independent report.

Keidan and Steinfeld lost by a majority of two-to-one in the appeal court judgement.

All three judges — Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Briggs and Lord Justice Beatson — agreed that the discrimination against heterosexual couples could not last indefinitely.

Outside the court, Keidan and Steinfeld said they would appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision — unless the government changed its mind.

Steinfeld said: "We are deeply disappointed by the ruling and very sorry to not be able to share good news, but there's so much in the decision that gives us reason to be positive and keep going."

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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2017 19:04:14 IST

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