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Civil partnerships to be extended to straight couples, Theresa May announces

The government will make the change following a Supreme Court ruling in June.

2018-10-02

Words: Will Stroude

Civil partnerships will be extended to opposite-sex couples following the Supreme Court's recent ruling that current legislation is discriminatory.

Theresa May has announced that the government will look at how to implement civil partnerships for heterosexual couples after being given the choice of extending them or scrapping them altogether, the BBC reports.

The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled in June that current legislation limiting civil partnerships to same-sex couples is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

"This change in the law helps protect the interests of opposite-sex couples who want to commit, want to formalise their relationship but don't necessarily want to get married," Mrs May said.

"As home secretary, I was proud to sponsor the legislation that created equal marriage.

"Now, by extending civil partnerships, we are making sure that all couples, be they same-sex or opposite-sex, are given the same choices in life."

In June, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favour of Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, an unmarried straight couple who wished to enter a civil partnership after deciding they did agree with the historic sexist connotations of marriage.

The couple, from London, had challenged the ban on mixed-sex couples entering civil partnerships as outlined in the Civil Partnerships Act 2004.

The government, which had previously said it would hold a full public consultation on the future issue of civil partnerships in 2020, says it will now immediately look at the technical details of making the change, saying there were "a number of legal issues to consider, across pension and family law".

However, Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt has said that the change would be introduced "as swiftly as possible".

The government's decision to extend civil partnerships has been welcomed by veteran LGBT rights campaign Peter Tatchell, who said the move was "wonderful news."

"It is the successful culmination of a 14-year equality campaign that was begun in 2004 by myself and the LGBT+ organisation OutRage!" said the 66-year-old, who supported Ms. Steinfeld and Mr Keidan's legal challenge.

"When Labour first introduced civil partnerships but restricted them to same-sex couples we argued that this was discrimination. We campaigned for equal civil partnerships for all,” Mr Tatchell said.

"We thank the government for listening to the judges, human rights law and the appeals of the many unmarried opposite-sex couples who want a civil partnership,” said Mr Tatchell.