Monday, November 23, 2009

Civil partnership ban for heterosexuals challenged

Received this by e-mail and thought I'd put it up for comment .

Straight couple defy civil partnership ban

Exclusion of heterosexual couples challenged

Bid for civil partnership equality backed by Peter Tatchell

A London straight couple, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, plan to challenge the ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships by filing an application at Islington Registry Office in London this Tuesday, 24 November at 10.30am.

They want "heterosexual equality."

The denial of civil partnerships to straight couples is, they say, "discriminatory and perpetuates legal inequality."

Doyle and Freeman expect to be turned down by the registrar but they plan to get the refusal in writing, with view to taking legal advice and appealing the refusal.

"If necessary, we are ready to take our appeal all the way to the European Court of Human Rights," said Mr Freeman and Ms Doyle.

The couple's equality bid is backed by the gay rights group OutRage! and by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. He will join them on 24 November when they give notice of their civil partnership at Islington Town Hall's Registry Office.

Mr Tatchell commented:

"We are against both homophobic and heterophobic laws. In a democratic society, everyone should be treated equally. There should be no legal discrimination. The ban on same-sex civil marriage and on opposite-sex civil partnerships is a form of sexual apartheid. It is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don't make a right," he said.

Outlining the reasons why they decided to opt for a civil partnership instead of marriage, Katherine Doyle said:

"We have been together for three and a half years and would like to formalise our relationship. Because we feel alienated from the patriarchal traditions of marriage, we would prefer to have a civil partnership. As a mixed-sex couple, we are banned by law from doing so. By filing an application for civil partnership, we are seeking to challenge this discriminatory law.

"Our decision is also motivated by the fact that we object to the way same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married. If we got married we would be colluding with the segregation that exists in matrimonial law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil
marriage. We don't want to take advantage of civil marriage when it is an option that is denied to our lesbian and gay friends," she said.

Doyle and Freeman will be giving notice of their intention to form a civil partnership at 10.30am, on Tuesday 24th November 2009 at Islington Registry Office, Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, London, N1 2UD

Tom Freeman (25, civil servant) said:

"We want to secure official status for our relationship in a way that supports the call for complete equality and is free of the negative connotations of marriage.

"If we cannot have a civil partnership, we will not get married. On a point of principle, we will remain unmarried until opposite sex couples can have a civil partnership and same-sex couples can have a civil marriage.

"We are taking this stand against discrimination and in support of legal equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

"The 'separate but equal' system which segregates couples according to their sexuality is not equal at all. All loving couples should have access to the same institutions, regardless of sexuality. There should be parity of respect and rights," he said.

Katherine Doyle (25, civil servant) added:

"We don't like the institution of marriage. We would much prefer a civil partnership. It is time there was full legal equality, with both civil marriage and civil partnerships open to gay and straight couples. We want a choice and all other couples should also have a choice, irrespective of their sexuality.

"Just as lesbian and gay couples should be able to have a civil marriage, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples who don't like the institution of marriage," she said.

Under UK law, same-sex couples are banned from civil marriage and heterosexual couples are banned from civil partnerships (called civil unions in the US).

Mr Tatchell commented:

"The ban on heterosexual civil partnerships is heterophobic. It is disciminatory and offensive. I want to see it ended, so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership.

"I applaud their challenge to this unjust legislation," he said.

Hmm, wonder what the Islington Registrar who doesn't want to officiate over Lesbian and Gay civil partnerships makes of this !