Before the introduction of civil partnerships and same sex marriages, it used to be the case that same sex couples were discriminated against by not being able to obtain legal recognition of their relationship their relationship in any way. Since legislation was introduced allowing same-sex couples to marry, they have been able to choose how they formalise their relationship but for same heterosexual couples, the only option is marriage.
Civil partnerships are to be extended to heterosexual couples, the prime minister has said, following a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that existing discrimination is unlawful.
In June, family solicitors urged the government to extend civil partnerships to couples of the opposite sex after the Supreme Court ruled in Steinfeld and Keidan v Secretary of State for International Development that there was no justification for the ongoing discrimination.
In a joint statement, Steinfeld and Keidan welcomed the PM’s pledge, but also called for a firm date for the reform.
Whilst many welcome this development as it will provide protection to those who live together but do not want to marry, what it will not do is give any protection to the increasing number of couples who do live together but do not want to marry nor enter in to a civil partnership. That anomaly still needs to be dealt with.’
Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: 'We have been in favour of extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples for a long time. That’s because we support the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. So we’re pleased to see the government is responding to recent judge-led decisions highlighting the need for changes in the law to reflect 21st century society in this country.
'The law needs to catch up with, and reflect, the multiple ways in which people choose to live their lives today. We are absolutely in favour of a review of all areas of the law affecting civil and religious contracts/marriages/partnerships.’
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This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.