Outrage! Planning Civil Partnership Legal Battle

2 Feb 2010

By: Peter Lloyd

A simultaneous legal challenge to the ban on same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships is being prepared by gay human rights group OutRage!, this week.

It comes after heterosexual couple Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle filed an application for a civil partnership at Islington registry office last November. They were rejected because, under UK law, civil partnerships are open to only same-sex couples. This legal exclusion mirrors the way civil marriage is available solely to heterosexual partners.

They say the decision is "discriminatory and perpetuates legal inequality."

Now, Outrage! has the support of legal expert, Professor Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College in London, who has agreed to take on the case.

"Our plan is for several gay and straight couples to file a joint application to the European Court of Human Rights, to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage and opposite-sex civil partnerships. The aim is to secure full equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free choice, without discrimination," said Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for OutRage!

"Denying couples the right to civil marriage and civil partnership on the basis of their sexual orientation is wrong and has to go.

"We plan to take these cases to the European Court of Human Rights, in a bid to secure marriage equality and civil partnership equality for all couples, regardless of their sexuality." Tatchell added.

Freeman added: "If we cannot have a civil partnership, we will not get married. On a point of principle, we will remain unmarried until opposite sex couples can have a civil partnership and same-sex couples can have a civil marriage.

"We are taking this stand against discrimination and in support of legal equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

"The 'separate but equal' system which segregates couples according to their sexuality is not equal at all. All loving couples should have access to the same institutions, regardless of sexuality. There should be parity of respect and rights," he said.

Article taken from www.pinkpaper.com