Steinfeld & Keidan

Civil partnership law incompatible with European Convention on Human Rights, concludes Supreme Court

R (on the application of Stenfeld and Keidan) v Secretary of State for International Development (in substitution for the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary)[2018] UKSC 32

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have won their appeal to the Supreme Court which has found that UK legislation in respect of civil partnerships is not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights article 14 (regarding the prohibition of discrimination) and Article 8 (regarding the right to a private and family life).

Under the Civil Partnership Act (CPA) only two people of the same sex may enter into a civil partnership.  The Marriage (Same Sex couples) Act 2013 (MSSCA) made marriage of same-sex couples lawful.  The CPA was not repealed when the MSSCA was enacted.  As a result, same-sex couples wishing to formalise their relationship have a choice as to whether to enter into a civil partnership or to marry.  This choice is not available to couples of different sexes.  Therefore, same-sex couples have a choice which different-sex couples do not.

The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the bar on different–sex couples entering into civil partnerships breached Miss Steinfeld and Mr Keidan’s rights under article 14 (the prohibition on discrimination) together with article 8 (the right to respect for private life) of the ECHR.  The High Court and Court of Appeal had previously dismissed their claim.

It is now accepted by the respondent that there is an inequality of treatment between same-sex and heterosexual couples.   The Supreme Court has allowed the appeal.

The issue for the Government now is whether different-sex couples are able to enter into a civil partnership or same-sex couples are no longer able to enter into civil partnerships as they are now able to marry.



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