The claimant (defending proceedings for possession by the local authority) had lived with the deceased secure tenant in a lesbian relationship for some years and was so living at the date of her death. She sought to defend her occupation saying she qualified as a spouse of the deceased.
Held: The defence failed: ‘I agree that the expression ‘living together as husband and wife’ . . is not apt to include a homosexual relationship. The essential characteristic of living together as husband and wife, in my judgment, is that there should be a man and a woman . . ‘ (Ewbank J) The natural English meaning of the words ‘wife or husband’ was gender-specific, and thus, purely as a matter of language, excluded same-sex relationships.
Judges: Watkins LJ, Ewbank J
Statutes: Housing Act 1980 50
References: (1985) 17 HLR 205,
- Jan Michalak -v- London Borough of Wandsworth, CA, Cited, (Bailii,  EWCA Civ 271,  4 All ER 1136,  1 WLR 617)
- Fitzpatrick -v- Sterling Housing Association Ltd, HL, Approved, (Times 02-Nov-99, Gazette 10-Nov-99, House of Lords, Bailii,  3 WLR 1113,  1 AC 27,  UKHL 42,  4 All ER 705)