High Court to Hear Feminists’ Challenge For Straight Civil Partnerships

Sham marriages

Today the UK’s High Court will hear a challenge against the ban on members of the opposite sex entering into civil partnerships from a heterosexual couple who describe themselves as feminists that reject traditional, “patriarchal” marriage.

The couple in question, London-based academics Charles Keidan (an expert on philanthropy) and Rebecca Steinfeld (who researches the politics of reproduction and genital alteration), are set to have their judicial review case heard by justices at the High Court today and Wednesday, reports Pink News.

Enjoying the backing of world-renowned gay and human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, they seek to make the case that they deserve the same rights granted to same-sex couples. Claiming to speak for “many thousands of opposite-sex couples like us” the pair said:

“Personally, we wish to form a civil partnership because that captures the essence of our relationship and values.

“Civil partnerships are a modern social institution conferring almost identical legal rights and responsibilities as marriage, but without its historical baggage, gendered provisions and social expectations.

“We don’t think there is any justification for stopping us or other opposite-sex couples from forming civil partnerships.”

The “historical baggage” to which they refer was set out in an interview with The Guardian where they described marriage as “a union in which women were exploited for their domestic and sexual services.”

Lawyers for the couple will argue that Section 1 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 — the part of the law introduced by Tony Blair’s government which restricts civil partnerships to same-sex couples — breaches Article 14 (read with Article 8) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which demands all be treated equally by law, regardless of sex or sexual orientation (among other things).

In a petition they launched, the couple say that if their action is successful it will merely bring the law “into line with places such as Holland and New Zealand where couples can choose between marriage and civil partnership.”

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