A landmark case involving a heterosexual couple campaigning for legal recognition without getting married will go to the Supreme Court today.
Academics Rebecca Steinfield and Charles Keidan say it is discriminatory that they cannot receive legal rights without first marrying, while same-sex couples can – via a civil partnership.
The pair is hoping that victory in the Supreme Court would force the Government to introduce civil partnerships for heterosexual couples.
The case comes as leaked documents indicate that the Government is already looking at proposals to extend civil partnerships to all couples.
It follows a number of campaigns, including the court case of Ms Steinfield and Mr Keidan.
In February last year, the Court of Appeal agreed that the couple is being treated differently because of their sexual orientations, which “impacts on their private and family life”.
The issue was also debated in parliament earlier this year, concluding that the Government was allowed to amend the bill to review the effectiveness of civil partnerships.
Experts have indicated that a successful outcome in today’s hearing could go one of two ways.
Firstly, the Government could extend civil partnerships to all couples, no matter their sexual orientation.
But the Government could also choose to abolish civil partnerships altogether.
Since the introduction of same-sex marriage, their popularity among same-sex couples has plummeted. The number of registered civil partnerships each year has fallen from around an average of 6,300 between 2007 and 2013 to just 890 in 2016.
Earlier this year, a Government Equalities Office spokesman said: “The Government introduced civil partnerships as a way of recognising same-sex relationships before same-sex marriage was available. We are proud to have now introduced same-sex marriage.
“We will consult before making changes to the law around civil partnerships. The policy paper published this week will inform and shape a future consultation on civil partnerships.”
Mr Keidan said: “What started out as a personal effort to become civil partners has taken on wider significance as we realised that as many as 3.3 million cohabiting couples are affected by the status quo.
“Over the last few years, we’ve heard the same message: whilst most couples want financial and legal protection for themselves and their families, not all feel comfortable with marriage.
“Civil partnerships offer a legally binding arrangement that is fair, popular and good for families and children.”