A young (opposite sex) couple committed to each other who wished to formalise their relationship were objected to the institution of marriage which they considered to be part of a ‘historically patriarchal nature,’ with sexist customs such as ‘giving the bride away,’ white dresses and hen and stag do’s. They therefore wished to enter into a civil partnership rather than a formal marriage. A civil partnership is described as a relationship between two people of the same sex when they register as civil partners of each other. S.1 (a) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 states that two people are not eligible to register as civil partners if they are not of the same sex.
It was therefore their position that since the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into effect where it is now possible for same sex couples to marry, it had become incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights which provides for the prohibition of discrimination.
It was held that the enactment of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 had not rendered the Civil Partnership Act 2004 unlawful and had merely created a second route that same sex couples could go down in order to secure legal recognition of their relationship.
The couple launched a judicial review but lost their case. This case certainly highlights the issue of equality, not only for heterosexual couples wishing to enter civil partnerships but also for the equality of women in recognising long-term relationships.
If you would like more information, speak to our Family Law Solicitor, Louisa Gothard on 020 7998 7777 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.