Civil Partnerships incompatible with human rights

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan are a heterosexual couple who have fought to Supreme Court for the right for opposite sex couples to enter civil partnerships, should they so choose. The couple met in 2010 and became engaged in 2013 and they have two children together. They do not believe in marriage but still want their relationship to be recognised in law by way of a civil partnership. They have said that marriage is not an option for them on the basis that it is an institution which has ‘treated women as property for centuries, excluded same-sex couples until 2014, and still leaves room only for fathers’ names on marriage certificates’. They say that they ‘want to cement and celebrate [their] relationship by having a civil partnership…an institution that would provide the same legal protections as marriage’. They want to raise their children as equal partners and feel that a civil partnership offers the best example.
Under current law, civil partnerships are only available to same sex couples. Opposite sex couples cannot register for civil partnerships. Rebecca and Charles have argued that this is discriminatory and in breach of their human rights because they do not have the same right to choose between marriage and civil partnership as gay couples have since same sex marriage became legal in the UK in 2014.

Civil Partnerships incompatible with human rights

The Supreme Court has now agreed with them and found that current UK law prohibiting opposite-sex couples from entering into civil partnerships is incompatible with Article 8 (right to respect of private and family life) and Article 14 (right to prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
For now the law remains that civil partnerships are not open to heterosexual couples. It is yet to be seen whether the government will change the law to allow opposite-sex couples to enter civil partnerships.

How can we help?

There are many couples who, like Rebecca and Charles, are opposed to the ideology of marriage and will therefore choose not to marry. Many of these unmarried couples may assume that they are protected by so called “common law” rights, but this is not the case. At the moment there are limited protections for cohabiting couples who decide not to get married.

If you have decided that you do not wish to marry, it is a good idea for you to consider entering a Cohabitation Agreement to provide written evidence of what you intend to happen to your property and other assets. Please contact our specialist family law solicitors on 0161 941 4000 or email us at if you wish to discuss the options available to you. Based in Altrincham, Manchester, Cheshire, we are easily accessible for clients who live in the surrounding areas including Warrington, Macclesfield, Hale, Bowdon, Lymm, Knutsford, Alderley Edge, Wilmslow and Prestbury.