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Heterosexual Couple Wins Legal Challenge To Civil Partnerships In Supreme Court

Current Law Deemed Incompatible With Human Rights Act


Jenny Batchelor, Press Officer | 0207 421 3951

The UK Supreme Court has ruled that current law around civil partnerships in the UK is incompatible with the Human Rights Act.

In a unanimous decision the judgment, which was handed down today (27 June), stated that the 2004 Civil Partnerships Act was incompatible on the grounds of discrimination and right to a private and family life.

Lord Kerr, one of the judges on the case, said the Government "does not seek to justify the difference in treatment between same-sex and different sex couples… to the contrary, it accepts that the difference cannot be justified."

Expert Opinion
“With this judgment the Supreme Court has recognised that every couple deserves equality. A lack of provision in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 for heterosexual couples to enter into a civil partnership has now been deemed unlawful and in breach of human rights law.

The Supreme Court has acknowledged that the Civil Partnership Act needs to be reformed as the current law is in contravention of Article 14 of the European Convention, discrimination, when read in conjunction with the right to privacy and a family life, Article 8. The Secretary of State has said consistently that they need to monitor and evaluate the future uptake of civil partnerships by same-sex couples now that there is same-sex marriage, and has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach.

The UK Supreme Court has confirmed today that same approach is in contravention of our human rights law. In the judgment the court is clear that the government created this discriminatory difference in treatment and now seeks further time to monitor and evaluate what to do next.

The court was clear that the government’s position is not legitimate and the court cannot allow the government a further period of time and to endorse a toleration of discrimination. The declaration of incompatibility will now go back to government to consider. The impact of the declaration is that section 1 and 3 of the Civil Partnership Act is now said to be unlawful and in need of reform.

We sincerely hope this result puts further pressure on the secretary of state to reform the law and introduce heterosexual civil partnerships, so that both same-sex and opposite-sex couples feel included in every aspect of family life.”
Scott Halliday, Solicitor