Civil Partnerships – Equality for All?

Civil partnerships came into effect in 2005 and after the defeat of Keidan and Steinfeld in the High Court, it later proved triumphant in the Supreme Court. Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld succeeded in their fight for opposite sex couples to have an option for civil partnership in June 2018 before the Supreme Court in the United Kingdom. The ruling was deemed incompatible with the Human Rights act 1998 for opposite sex couples to have civil partnerships. In 2004 civil partnerships were introduced for same sex couples, but the battle for heterosexual civil partnership continues.

The Keidan and Steinfeld case has now become the principal case for equality regarding opposite sex couples who want a civil partnership. Their arguments stemmed from the governments breach in Article 8, right to a private family life and Article 14, prohibition on discrimination towards the sexual orientation of couples.  

According to Catherine Fairbairn author of ‘common law marriage and cohabitation’ (2018), last year’s statistics evidently show how many opposite sex couples are cohabitating in the UK has nearly doubled since 1996 1.5 Million to 2017 3.2 million.

Is this just a halfway point to marriage?

Other countries such as New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France, Portugal and many more allow equal civil partnerships to be an option legally alongside marriage. New Zealand allowed legal obligation for equal civil partnerships to be the same as a marriage under the Civil Union Act 2004, coming into effect in 2005. The movement in Equal Civil Partnerships in the UK is not only for the breach in Human Rights or the unifying of a family without having to follow social or cultural necessities of a marriage, but to allow your partner to claim off your pension without the need of a matrimonial certificate.

The Isle of Man is not part of the UK despite Crown dependency and is significant in not only following the UK for same sex couples to marry, but in allowing heterosexual couples to sanctify their civil partnership union.

Tim Loughton MP wants to allow for different sex couples to register for a civil partnership and his bill remains unopposed in the House of Lords.

What will this mean for pensions?

Currently cohabitating couples whom are not married miss out on pension rights, tax breaks and benefits such as social security. It is argued that MP Loughton’s persistence in pushing the bill for equality may cause companies to add billions to pension fund liabilities.

What this bill will reflect is a change in society and provides an equality that means couples do not have to feel pressured into marriage to ensure such financial benefits.


By Kirsty Craven – Oxford Brookes University – Intern

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