The Supreme Court has been told that not allowing heterosexual couples to enter into civil partnerships is discriminatory. The case, brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, will be heard by five judges, including the president of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale.
The couple wishes to enter into a civil partnership but cannot do so as the Civil Partnership Act 2004 does not allow heterosexual partners to participate. Karon Monaghan QC said that the couple “have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage. I want to observe that they are not alone in holding those deep-rooted objections”.
Steinfeld and Keidan are challenging the Civil Partnership Act on two grounds. They say that to ban heterosexual couples from entering into civil partnerships is to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. They also argue that this breaches their right to a private and family life.
They said: “We have met hundreds of couples like us who love each other and want a civil partnership so they can celebrate their commitment and strengthen the security of their family unit. All they want is the choice of marriage or a civil partnership to suit them, which is currently available only to same-sex couples”.
In order to address the issue of discrimination in this case, the government was reportedly considering civil partnerships altogether at the weekend. The LGBT charity, Stonewall, responded with a statement entitled Abolishing civil partnerships is not an option.
Stonewall director of campaigns, policy and research, Paul Twocock, said: “Abolition would imply that civil partnerships are now less valued than a marriage and somehow irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth for those couples already in them. The Government has announced they’ll consult on how to resolve the current inequality. I believe – and hope – that once they’ve listened to these voices, the Government will realise the only way forward is to extend civil partnerships to everyone.”