In September 2018, the UK Supreme Court issued a landmark judgement in family law; that the UK government’s current restrictions on civil partnerships contravene human rights law, and that civil partnerships should be made available to heterosexual couples.
The ground-breaking case was brought by a heterosexual couple, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who wished to become civil partners rather than husband and wife. A civil partnership would allow the couple to have all the legal rights associated with marriage, without the weighty historical and social connotations. Currently, civil partnerships are only available to homosexual couples, since its introduction in 2004 as an alternative to marriage, which allowed the government to confer civil rights to homosexual couples without coming into conflict with religious organisations over the issue of gay marriage.
However, the Supreme Court has now ruled that this restriction contravenes Articles 14 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which decree that nobody should be discriminated against on the basis of their sexuality, and that everyone has the right to a private, family life respectively.
Prime Minister Theresa May has already announced that her government will change English family law to align with the judgement, but the Scottish Government has instead announced a consultation, which shall ask the public whether civil partnerships should be made available to heterosexual couples in the UK.
Information on how to participate in the consultation is available here.
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