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October 21, 2016

London couple to become first UK citizens to get a different-sex civil partnership

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Martin and Claire

A woman and man from London will today become the first UK-based heterosexual couple to enter into a civil partnership in the British Isles. The couple have to travel to the Isle of Man for the ceremony as different-sex civil partnerships are currently not available to couples living in the UK.

Claire Beale and Martin Loat, who reside in Ealing in west London with their two children aged 14 and 10, have lived together since 1992. They have said that they want a formal recognition of the relationship but they have never wanted to get married.

But, despite being legal for same-sex couples since 2004, civil partnerships are not permitted for different-sex couples in the UK. The Isle of Man, which is a Crown Dependency but not part of the UK, introduced different-sex civil partnership in July this year.

Ms Beale and Mr Loat have decided to form their civil partnership in the Isle of Man so they can achieve the legal recognition for their relationship that they have always wanted in the only form that is available to them today. They hope that that either the UK government will have to follow the Isle of Man’s lead and end discrimination against heterosexuals seeking civil partnerships, or that pressure will build until such a civil partnership formed in the Isle of Man will be deemed as valid in the UK.

“We respect that other people in committed, lasting relationships might want to opt for marriage, but it’s not right for us,” they said. “We regard ourselves as one of the millions of ‘happily unmarried’ couples in the UK.  We want a less encumbered, light-touch civil union that recognises our relationship on our terms, free from the trappings and social pre-conditions of marriage, while protecting our family financially and in law.”

Last week Adeline Cosson and Kieran Hodgson became the first ever different-sex couple in the British Isles to get a civil partnership. As residents of the Isle of the Man their union will be recognised by their home government unlike Ms Beale and Mr Loat, who must hope for a change in UK law.

The Isle of Man ceremonies come less than two weeks before the Appeal court in London is due to hear the case of another London couple – Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan – who have brought a legal case against HM Government on the grounds that the ban on different-sex civil partnerships goes against the Human Right Act. The couple lost the first ruling on their case in January this year.

They decided to appeal following a wave of public support which has seen 70,000 people sign an online petition in support of civil partnerships being open to all, regardless of sexual orientation

Both the London couples are part of the campaign for Equal Civil Partnerships.

Mr Loat added: “We now have 0.1% of British Isles sewn up, only another 99.1% to go!”

October 16, 2016

First different-sex civil partnership celebrated in British Isles

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Adeline Cosson, 24, and Kieran Hodgson, 22, have become the first ever different-sex couple in the British Isles to enter into a civil partnership.

The couple, who live on the Isle of Man, had a ceremony in Douglas in the morning of Friday 14th. Although civil partnerships are not currently available for different-sex couples living in the United Kingdom, they are available in the Isle of Man which is separate from the UK. They were introduced on the Isle this summer.

Cosson and Hodgson said they wanted to “keep it simple”.

Cosson said “We didn’t want to call it a marriage, we wanted to call it a civil partnership…We were told we were the first ever. We are very proud to do it.

“The main thing was that we wanted to keep it simple. We are a young couple. We do want to get married one day but not now; at a later date. This gives us rights under the law.

“It helps couples move forward without having to get married right now. To create full equality on the Isle of Man, they have allowed gay couples to get married but also to start civil partnerships.”

Commenting on Cosson and Hodgson’s union, Matt Hawkins, of the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, said: “I’m delighted to send congratulations to Adeline and Kieran. I hope that the joy they share in their civil partnership is one that many different-sex couples across the British Isles will soon be able to experience.

“It seems remarkable that different-sex couples in Britain are now just a stone’s throw away from getting a civil partnership. Extending civil partnerships extends choice and gives couples who do not feel a marriage is right for them the chance to gain legal and financial protection for their relationship and, if they have any, their children.

“With our 70,000 supporters, politicians backing us from every party, and endorsements from fantastic organisations, we are confident that that choice and opportunity will soon be extended and Adeline and Kieran’s example followed by couples across Britain.”


Note:

Since Cosson and Hodgson’s union was announced the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign has received a number of inquiries from people asking if they could go to the Isle of Man from the UK, get a civil partnerships and then have it recognised back in Britain. At present it is unclear since this has never been tested in law before. The French equivalent of a civil partnership – pacs – has been recognised but we expect that is because the legal rights gained by couples who enter into them are less than those of a marriage. It will require a “test case” to be undertaken whereby a couple tries to have the rights gained from a civil partnership entered into on the Isle of Man recognised in the UK.

October 7, 2016

Campaign writes to London Mayor and Jersey Ministers

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The Equal Civil Partnerships this week wrote to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Chief Minister of Jersey Ian Gorst asking for their support.

We have good reason to believe that in these bids we will be successful.

Our campaign now has the backing of London Assembly Members from the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats. In 2000 City Hall in London did something brave and bold: it introduced the first ever registration scheme for same-sex couples, the first step along the way to civil partnerships and ultimately equal marriage. We want the Mayor to follow that legacy and the lead of his Assembly Members and use his position to promote and push for the extension of civil partnerships. We’ve requested a meeting with Sadiq so watch this space!

We also wrote to the Chief Minister in Jersey. Jersey is in the process of introducing same-sex marriage and in our letter we urged the States (as they are known) to do what the British government should have done in 2013: extend civil partnerships. With the precedent now set by the Isle of Man for this cause, we have great hope that Chief Minister Gorst will be open to the idea.

The letters went in the post yesterday so we will keep you updated once we have news!

 

 

September 16, 2016

Over half of respondents to Scottish government survey support extending civil partnerships

More than half of respondents (52%) to a Scottish government consultation on civil partnerships think they should be extended to different-sex couples.what-should-happen-to-cps

The option of extending civil partnerships had the support of an overwhelming majority of those who completed the survey. Less than 30% now believe that civil partnerships should not be extended.

The data was obtained by the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign from the Scottish government. Matt Hawkins, Campaign Manager for the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign, said:

“The results of the Scottish government’s consultation adds to the momentum behind our call for the extension of civil partnerships to different-sex couples. This summer the Isle of Man introduced different-sex civil partnerships and over 70,000 people have signed our petition asking the British government to do the same. We’re simply asking that more people are given a choice over how their relationship is expressed – something a lot of people can get behind. As more and more people support the cause, the demand will be harder to ignore.”

Currently in Britain all couples can marry but only different-sex couples can get a civil partnership. Amongst the European nations that have introduced same-sex marriage, Britain is unique in still reserving one form of union to one type of couple. The Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign is calling for that anomaly to end. The campaign argues that many couples would like the legal protection of marriage but don’t feel the ceremony or institution is right for them.

The campaign is backed by organisations such as The Equality Network, Progressive Women, and Humanist Society Scotland, by campaigners including Owen Jones, Peter Tatchell, and Ellie Mae O’Hagan, and politicians including Green Party Co-Leader and MP Caroline Lucas, the Women’s Equality Party, Tim Loughton MP, and Alistair Carmichael MP.

September 9, 2016

Our response to release of 2015 Civil Partnership statistics

On Thursday 8th September, the Office of National Statistics released data on the number of civil partnerships that were registered in 2015. It showed that there were 861 civil partnerships in 2015 compared to 1683 in 2014. This drop came as no surprise however: last year same-sex couples were able to get married for the first time ever.

In response the release of the statistics, we issued this statement:

“That nearly 1000 couples registered for a civil partnership last year shows that there is still a demand for this union, this recognition of a relationship. It is unsurprising that the numbers have fallen now that marriage is rightly open to same-sex couples and that is to be celebrated: it demonstrates that same-sex couples are now able to choose the kind of arrangement that is right for them. That is a right we want to see extended to different-sex couples and our campaign will continue until the choice is available to all.”

August 25, 2016

Pressure builds in Scotland for equal civil partnerships

Following the introduction of civil partnerships for difference sex couples in Scotland we were delighted to receive the support of both the Humanist Society Scotland and the Scotland-based Equality Network. The Humanist Society has approximately 7000 members whilst the Equality Network is one of the leading LGBTIQ campaign organisations in Scotland. Gaining their support helps us to build the case for the introduction of equal civil partnerships across Britain.

Read more about their support here and here.

August 4, 2016

Isle of Man adds to pressure on British government

The major boost to our campaign granted by the decision in the Isle of Man to give different sex couples the right to a civil partnership continues to be felt.

This week the Daily Telegraph published an excellent feature on the Isle of Man’s decision, assessing whether British couples will be able to get a civil partnership on the island and have it recognised in Britain. The fact that they probably will not only adds to the pressure on the British government who will be seen as denying legally obtained rights of different sex couples.

The article states:

“New legislation which has just come into force on the Island [Isle of Man] – a crown dependency separate from but closely tied to the UK – will create new pressure in mainland Britain for straight couples to be allowed to form legally recognised partnerships.

“But it also creates a new legal grey area in other parts of Britain, with uncertainty over how opposite sex couples in civil partnerships under Manx law will be recognised, if at all.”

Our campaign will be continuing to promote the precedence set by the Isle of Man as yet further evidence that Britain needs to catch up and extend civil partnerships to all couples.

 

July 29, 2016

Equal Civil Partnerships launches fundraising campaign

We’ve reached a moment of real opportunity for the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign. We have a new prime minister and Minister for Equalities in place. We’ve employed a new campaign manager. Charles and Rebecca’s court case is coming up this November. And the Isle of Man has just introduced civil partnerships for different sex couples.

We need to seize this opportunity.

That’s why we’ve launched our first ever major campaign fundraising drive. Thanks to the generous donations of members of the public the legal case has already been funded but now we need your support to help us run our political campaign. Because, even if the court decides in our favour this November, we will need the support of politicians to ensure that the law gets changed.

Your donations will help us run our campaign, produce materials designed to convince MPs of our cause, and pay for the drafting of the legislation we want to introduce.

Please head to our fundraising page and give what you can.

July 21, 2016

Welcome to our new campaign manager!

We want to give a warm welcome to our new campaign manager Matt Hawkins who has joined the team here at Equal Civil Partnerships.

Matt Hawkins new Campaign Manager

Matt Hawkins new Campaign Manager

Matt will be helping us over the coming months as we ramp up our parliamentary campaign, engage more MPs, increase the publicity of our campaign, and prepare for Charles and Rebecca’s court case in November.

Matt has previously worked for a number of campaigns including Gingerbread, Carers Trust, and Climate Week. He will be working part-time with us, working for a campaign to ban nuclear weapons during the other half of his week. In his spare time Matt enjoys playing piano and looking after his two rebellious house rabbits.

If you want to contact Matt you can do so on hello@equalcivilpartnerships.org.uk

July 21, 2016

Equal Civil Partnerships for different-sex couples become law in the Isle of Man

Different sex couples who have lived on the Isle of Man for two weeks or more will now be able to get a civil partnership.

The extension of this right to different sex couples was passed by the Isle of Man parliament in April this year and officially became law this week.

It now means that the British government, by denying civil partnerships to different-sex couples, becomes increasingly isolated in Western Europe. France, Portugal, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and many more countries already allow both same-sex and different-sex couples to get civil unions.

The Isle of Man parliament was clearly very proud of the leadership the island is showing. Chief Minister Alan Bell said:

“Recognition of marriage for same-sex couples in Manx law is a truly historic moment, showing just how far the Island has travelled over the past 30 years.

“It sends out a clear message that the Isle of Man today is a modern, open and inclusive society where equal rights are respected. I believe that the values of fairness and tolerance reflected in this legislation are shared by the overwhelming majority of our population.”

The Equal Civil Partnerships campaign hopes to take the enthusiasm and energy shown in the Isle of Man for this cause and translate it into action in the rest of Britain.