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article imageGay campaigners join fight to help straight pair get civil union

By Andrew John     Nov 8, 2010 in Lifestyle
A gay campaigning group in the UK has joined the fight to get civil partnerships for straight couples. At the moment, they are available only to gay ones.
A heterosexual couple will challenge the ban on straight civil partnerships tomorrow by filing an application at Islington Register Office in London.
They are demanding “heterosexual equality.” The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples is, they say, “discriminatory and perpetuates legal inequality.”
Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle expect to be turned down by the registrar, but they plan to get the rejection in writing, with view to taking legal advice and appealing the refusal in the courts.
Civil partnerships for same-sex couples were introduced in the UK in 2005 under the Civil Partnerships Act of 2004.
“The couple’s bid is part of the new Equal Love campaign, which is seeking to overturn the twin prohibitions on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” says the gay human-rights activist Peter Tatchell.
The Equal Love campaign is organised by the gay rights group OutRage! and coordinated by Tatchell, who will join Freeman and Doyle Tuesday when they apply for their civil partnership.
Tatchell commented: “We seek heterosexual equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There should be no legal discrimination. The twin bans on same-sex civil marriages and on opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. There is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
“Denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership is heterophobic. It is discriminatory and offensive. I want to see it ended, so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership. I applaud their challenge to this unjust legislation,” he said.
Freeman, 26, an administrator, said: “We want to secure official status for our relationship in a way that supports the call for complete equality and is free of the negative, sexist connotations of marriage.
Point of principle
“We’d prefer a civil partnership. But if we can’t have one we won’t get married. On a point of principle, we’ll remain unmarried until opposite-sex couples can have a civil partnership and same-sex couples can have a civil marriage.
“We’re taking this stand against discrimination and in support of legal equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
“The ‘separate but equal’ system which segregates couples according to their sexuality is not equal at all. All loving couples should have access to the same institutions, regardless of sexuality. There should be parity of access,” he said.
Doyle, 26, a postgraduate student, added: “We’ve been together for four and a half years and would like to formalise our relationship. Because we feel alienated from the patriarchal traditions of marriage, we would prefer to have a civil partnership. As a mixed-sex couple, we’re banned by law from doing so. By filing an application for civil partnership, we are seeking to challenge this discriminatory law.
“Our decision is also motivated by the fact that we object to the way same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married. If we got married we would be colluding with the segregation that exists in relationship law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriages. We don’t want to take advantage of civil marriage when it is an option that is denied to our lesbian and gay friends,” she said.
The first civil partnership in the UK was held on 5 December 2005 between Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp at St Barnabas Hospice in Sussex. The 15-day waiting period was waived for the couple because Roche was suffering from a terminal illness. He died the day after the ceremony.
More about Civil partnerships, Peter tatchell, Gay, Outrage, Straight
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