Alison Green, the Head of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s Family Team, has said that that case of Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld shows the discrimination at the heart of the civil partnership legislation.
Yesterday’s ruling in the Court of Appeal dismissed the couple’s challenge for judicial review on opposite-sex civil partnerships – an issue that the couple have been campaigning on.
The couple claim their inability to obtain a civil partnership is in incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention, which relates to discrimination, and Article 8, which refers to respect for private and family life.
Despite the dismissal of the appeal, Lady Justice Arden who presided over the appeal accepted their case on almost every point, but allowed the government more time to review the law.
Reacting to the appeal dismissal, Alison said: “The Court of Appeal decision means that currently heterosexual couples are being discriminated against as they are unable to benefit from the same rights as civil partners who enter into a Civil Partnership under the 2004 Civil Partnership Act.
“The Act has wide ranging tax and inheritance benefits and also regulates the position when the relationship breaks down.”
“As matters stand, same sex partners continue to benefit from the provisions of the 2004 Act, as well as being able to marry and thus benefit from everything which marriage brings. They therefore have a freedom of choice as to how to recognise their relationship, which heterosexual couples do not.”
She added that there were now a number of overseas jurisdictions, including the Isle of Man, which recognise and provide for heterosexual civil partnerships.
She said: “It seems to me that there is no good reason why the UK government should not provide for the same. It is hard to see what the legal downside could be to rectify the current legislative anomaly.”
At the beginning of last year, Alison took part in a panel discussion exploring the opening up of civil partnerships to different sex couples, which included Tim Loughton MP, former Children’s Minister; Andy Slaughter MP, Shadow Human Rights Minister; Professor Robert Wintermute of Kings College London and Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld.
She is among a growing number of family solicitors calling for the laws on heterosexual civil partnerships to be amended and has campaigned alongside couples and politicians for changes to be made urgently to rectify the disparity in the rules.