Straight couples refused equality

Ban on hetero civil partnerships to remain

Gay couples will have legal advantage under Cameron plan

London – 6 December 2012


“Despite proclaiming that the legalisation of same-sex civil marriage is driven by the principle of equality, David Cameron is expected to retain the inequality of the current legal ban on heterosexual civil partnerships,” said human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell.

“The government’s proposal for equal marriage rights for gay couples is likely to be announced very soon. It will not include an end to discrimination against straight couples in civil partnership law.

“Opposite-sex couples are legally prohibited from having a civil partnership and David Cameron intends to keep it that way.

“This will mean gay couples will soon have legal privileges over heterosexual couples.

“There will be two forms of official state recognition for lesbian and gay couples: the present system of civil partnerships and the new system of civil marriages. Heterosexual couples will have only one option: marriage. They will be subjected to legal inequality and discrimination.

“This is very wrong. I support straight equality,” said Mr Tatchell.

He pioneered the campaign for same-sex marriage in 1992, when he organised the first challenge to the ban on gay couples. Five same-sex couples filed marriage licence applications at Marylebone Register Office. They were refused.

As coordinator of the Equal Love campaign, together with Professor Robert Wintemute of Kings College London he coordinated a new legal challenge to the gay marriage ban in the European Court of Human Rights in February 2011.

Read the application to the ECHR here:

“This legal case helped prompt the government to commit itself three months later to end the ban and make same-sex marriage lawful,” added Mr Tatchell.

“Our European Court case also seeks to overturn the prohibition on opposite-sex civil partnerships. This aspect of the legal case will continue, even if the government legislates marriage equality.

“My four decades of human rights activism have been based on the principle of equality. I can’t accept equal rights for gay couples but not for heterosexual couples.

“In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law. Straight men and women also deserve equality.

“Both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to all couples, without any sexual orientation discrimination.

“In the Netherlands, where civil marriages and civil partnerships are available to all couples – gay and straight – the vast majority of civil partnerships are between heterosexual men and women. Some straight people prefer them.

“If civil partnerships were made available to heterosexual couples in the UK there would probably be a similar significant take up.

“This issue is not about numbers. It is about equality. Even if only a handful of straight people wanted a civil partnership, they’d be entitled to have one,” said Mr Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.