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UK heterosexual couple win right to civil partnerships

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Press Trust of India London
A heterosexual couple today won their legal bid in the UK Supreme Court to allow them to enter into a civil partnership instead of marriage, an option only open to same-sex couples till now.
The court unanimously ruled in favour of London-based Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, and concluded that the UK's Civil Partnership Act 2004 was discriminatory by only applying to same-sex couples and was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
"We are feeling elated. But at the same time we are feeling frustrated the government has wasted taxpayers' money in fighting what the judges' have called a blatant inequality," said Steinfeld after the ruling.
In a civil partnership, a couple is entitled to the same legal treatment in terms of inheritance, tax, pensions and next-of-kin arrangements as marriage. The couple, who met in 2010 and have two children, said the "legacy of marriage" which "treated women as property for centuries" was not an option for them.
"We want to raise our children as equal partners and feel that a civil partnership - a modern, symmetrical institution sets the best example for them," they explained in their reasoning behind insisting on a civil partnership.
Since March 2014, same sex couples in the UK can choose whether to enter a civil partnership or to marry. This has not been possible for heterosexual couples, which led Steinfeld and Keidan to argue that the law was discriminatory. The Supreme Court ruling overturns a previous judgement made by the Court of Appeal, which had rejected the couple's claim in February of last year.
Announcing the court's decision, Justice Brian Francis Kerr said the government did not seek to justify the difference in treatment between same-sex and different sex couples.
"To the contrary, it accepts that the difference cannot be justified," he said.
More than 130,000 people have signed an online petition in support of civil partnerships for everyone. The couple's barrister, Karon Monaghan, had argued in court that her clients had "deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage" and are "not alone" in their views.
There are around 63,000 couples in civil partnerships in the UK and around 3.3 million cohabiting couples.

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First Published: Jun 27 2018 | 7:25 PM IST

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