Wednesday, February 22, 2017

British Appeals Court Refuses To Extend Civil Partnerships To Heterosexual Couples

In Steinfeld & Keidan v Secretary of State for Education, (EWCA, Feb. 21, 2017), Britain's Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision, rejected a challenge to British law that allows same-sex couples, but not opposite-sex couples, to enter civil partnerships as an alternative to marriage.  The differential treatment was challenged as a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibition on discrimination (Article 14) and right to respect for private and family life (Article 8). As explained in the Court's Summary of the decision, all of the judges agreed that the ban on civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples creates a potential violation of Articles 14 and 8.  However two of the three judges concluded that the limitation is permissible because it is in pursuit of a legitimate aim and is proportionate.  The Secretary of State is taking further time to assess whether, since the introduction of same-sex marriage, civil partnership should be phased out or should instead be extended to opposite-sex couples. CNN reports on the decision.