Heterosexual couple lose civil partnership case at Court of Appeal

A couple from London, Ms Rebecca Steinfield and Mr Charles Keidan, recently lost their battle in the Court of Appeal, to enter into a civil partnership despite being a heterosexual couple.

Civil Partnerships were introduced in 2004 to enable same sex couples to formalise their relationship and acquire legal rights a kin to marriage. The government subsequently passed legislation allowing gay marriage in 2014.

Ms Steinfield and Mr Keidan wanted to enter into a civil partnership to formalise their seven year relationship. They did not wish to get married as they consider marriage carries with it “patriarchal baggage”. They complained the government’s position was ” incompatible with equality law.”

They sought a judicial review on the basis their human rights were being violated.  The Court of Appeal dismissed their application on Tuesday by two votes to one but recognised there may be a potential breach in their human rights, but said the government should have more time to  consider the future of civil partnerships.

Mr Squires, QC, representing the secretary for state for education, said it had been decided at this stage not to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples, or to either abolish or phase them out. Instead, he said the government planned to see how extending marriage to same sex couples, or to either abolish or phase them out.

All three judges agreed the status quo could not continue indefinitely.

Ms  Steinfield  said ” we lost on a technicality” and vowed to continue their fight to the Supreme Court.

This case highlights anomalies in the current legal system, whereby opposite sex couples have no legal rights to protect their position if their relationship breaks down. There are now three million cohabiting couples and many have no idea that they have no legal remedy should they separate from their partner. This can lead to severe financial hardship.