Straight couple defy civil partnership ban

Exclusion of opposite-sex couples challenged

Tuesday 9 November 2010
10.15am
Register Office
Islington Town Hall
Upper Street, London N1 2UD

A heterosexual couple, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, will challenge the ban on straight civil partnerships by filing an application at Islington Register Office in London this Tuesday, 9 November at 10.15am.

They want “heterosexual equality.”

The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex 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 rejection in writing, with view to taking legal advice and appealing the refusal in the courts.

The couple’s bid is part of the new Equal Love campaign, which is seeking to overturn the twin prohibitions on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

The Equal Love campaign is organised by the gay rights group OutRage! and coordinated by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Mr Tatchell will join Katherine and Tom this Tuesday, 9 November, when they apply for a civil partnership.

Mr Tatchell commented:

“We seek heterosexual equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There should be no legal discrimination. The twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and on opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. There is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“Denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership is discriminatory 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.

Tom Freeman (26, administrator) 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, sexist connotations of marriage.

“We’d prefer a civil partnership. But if we cannot have one, we won’t get married.

“On a point of principle, we’ll 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 access,” he said.

Outlining why she joined the Equal Love and campaign and why she is seeking to reverse the ban on heterosexual civil partnerships, Katherine Doyle (26, postgraduate student) added:

“We have been together for four 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 relationship law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriages. 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.

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