03:14, February 21 438 0 theguardian.com

2017-02-21 03:14:10
Appeal court to rule on civil partnerships for heterosexual couples

The appeal court is to decide whether opposite sex couples can enter civil partnerships – without running away to the Isle of Man. The judgment is due on Tuesday.

While same-sex couples can choose either to marry or become civil partners, the law does not provide heterosexual couples with the same choice; they have to make do with traditional marriages.

The challenge has been brought by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan who live in Hammersmith, west London, and have a 20-month-old daughter.

They reject marriage as a “patriarchal” institution. They believe they should be allowed to enter a civil partnership, which they see as a more equal arrangement which is not burdened with the “sexist history” of marriage.

Steinfeld, a political scientist who specialises in gender and race issues, is a visiting research fellow at Goldsmiths college in London. Keidan is editor of Alliance, a magazine which specialises in philanthropy.

Last summer, the Isle of Man, which is not part of the UK, became the first part of the British Isles to legalise opposite sex civil partnerships. Several British couples have already travelled to the capital, Douglas, to take advantage of its more liberal partnership laws.

Ahead of the ruling, Steinfeld said: “When we started our legal battle for the right to form a civil partnership three years ago we could never have envisaged the incredible levels of support that would follow.

“Over 72,000 people have signed our petition on Change.org calling on the government to open civil partnerships to all. We have received support from nearly every major political party.

“It really is remarkable but it just speaks to the fact that opening civil partnerships is popular, fair and would be good for families and children … We hope that the government will take heed and act soon to open civil partnerships to all.”

Keidan said: “We believe we have not only the law but basic fairness on our side. Whatever happens on Tuesday, we will be looking to the government to open civil partnerships to all couples at the earliest opportunity.

“By doing so, they will be listening to the thousands of people who want to see mixed-sex civil partnerships open to all. This is the simple, fair and popular thing to do.”