Hetero Partnerships – wait and see proportionate
The claimants, a heterosexual couple complained that their inability to have a civil partnership was an unlawful discrimination against them and a denial of their Article 8 rights. The argument that the appellants’ case did not come within the ambit of article 8 was maintained by the respondent.
Held: (Arden LJ dissenting) The appeal failed. However, there was no need first to show an infringement of the claimants’ article 8 rights before complaining of discrimination under article 14. It was enough to show that the complaint fell within the ambit of article 8. Nevertheless, the policy of the government to wait and see as to the development of demand for civil partnerships was proportionate. There remained an impasse but this could not be left indefinitely. The interference with the appellants’ rights under article 8, read together with article 14 was, at least for the time being, justified.
Beatson LJ said: ‘In my view, at present, the Secretary of State’s position is objectively justified. The future of the legal status of civil partnerships is an important matter of social policy that government is entitled to consider carefully. At the hearing the Secretary of State’s approach was described as a ‘wait and see’ approach, although it would be more accurate to describe it as a ‘wait and evaluate’ approach. Whatever term is used to describe the approach, it would not have been available to the Secretary of State prior to the enactment and coming into force of the 2013 Act. This is because it would not have been possible at that time to determine how many people would continue to enter into civil partnerships or want to do so because they share the appellants’ sincere objections to marriage. The relevant start date for consideration is thus 13 March 2014 when the provisions extending marriage to same sex couples came into force.’
and ‘I can well understand the frustration which must be felt by the appellants and those different sex couples who share their view about marriage, about what they regard as the Government’s slow progress on this issue. Some couples in their position may suffer serious fiscal disadvantage if, for example, one of them dies before they can form a civil partnership. This is a factor in the proportionality balance, and because this is a case of differential treatment on the basis of sexual orientation, that balance must command anxious scrutiny. But against the background of a serious but unresolved difficulty which affects the public as a whole, and the practicable impossibility of some interim measure, such as temporarily opening civil partnership to different sex couples when the eventual decision may be to abolish it, I am unable to regard the Secretary of State’s current policy of ‘wait and evaluate’ as a disproportionate response.’
Briggs LJ said: ‘I can well understand the frustration which must be felt by the appellants and those different sex couples who share their view about marriage, about what they regard as the Government’s slow progress on this issue. Some couples in their position may suffer serious fiscal disadvantage if, for example, one of them dies before they can form a civil partnership. This is a factor in the proportionality balance, and because this is a case of differential treatment on the basis of sexual orientation, that balance must command anxious scrutiny. But against the background of a serious but unresolved difficulty which affects the public as a whole, and the practicable impossibility of some interim measure, such as temporarily opening civil partnership to different sex couples when the eventual decision may be to abolish it, I am unable to regard the Secretary of State’s current policy of ‘wait and evaluate’ as a disproportionate response.’
Arden LJ found that the interference with the appellants’ article 8 and article 14 rights was not justified, but considered that it pursued a legitimate aim, saying that the state had the option to eliminate the discrimination ‘in any way it sees fit’ and therefore must be entitled to ‘some time to make its choice.’
Arden, Beatson, Briggs LJJ
 EWCA Civ 81,  WLR(D) 123,  HRLR 3,  QB 519,  4 All ER 47,  2 FLR 692,  3 WLR 1237,  2 FCR 324
Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, Civil Partnership Act 2004, European Convention on Human Rights 8 14, Human Rights Act 1998
England and Wales
Appeal from – Steinfeld and Another v The Secretary of State for Education Admn 29-Jan-2016
The claimant heterosexual couple wanted to enter into a civil partnership rather than to marry.
Held: The request for judicial review failed. On the authorities, the bar did not fall within the scope or ambit of Article 8. The appellants could . .
Cited – Oliari And Others v Italy ECHR 21-Jul-2015
The claimants complained of the ban in Italy on the recognition of same sex relationships. Despite several rulings of the Italian Constitutional Court that they had a constitutional right to have their relationships recognised by the law, the . .
Cited – Petrovic v Austria ECHR 27-Mar-1998
The applicant was refused a grant of parental leave allowance in 1989. At that time parental leave allowance was available only to mothers. The applicant complained that this violated article 14 taken together with article 8.
Held: The . .
Cited – Schalk and Kopf v Austria ECHR 22-Nov-2010
The applicants, a same sex couple sought the right to marry.
Held: The application failed. Same-sex couples are in a relevantly similar situation to different-sex couples as regards their need for legal recognition and protection of their . .
Cited – Vallianatos And Others v Greece (LS) ECHR 7-Nov-2013
ECHR (Grand Chamber) Article 14
Exclusion of same-sex couples from ‘civil unions’: violation
Facts – The first application was lodged by two Greek nationals, and the second by six . .
Cited – Vallianatos And Others v Greece ECHR 7-Nov-2013
Grand Chamber Judgment. The applicants alleged that the fact that the ‘civil unions’ introduced by the respondent were designed only for couples composed of different-sex adults had infringed their right to respect for their private and family life . .
Cited – Pajic v Croatia ECHR 23-Feb-2016
The applicant alleged discrimination on the grounds of her sexual orientation in obtaining a residence permit in Croatia, contrary to Articles 8 and 14 of the Convention. . .
Cited – Regina v Director of Public Prosecutions, ex parte Kebilene and others HL 28-Oct-1999
(Orse Kebeline) The DPP’s appeal succeeded. A decision by the DPP to authorise a prosecution could not be judicially reviewed unless dishonesty, bad faith, or some other exceptional circumstance could be shown. A suggestion that the offence for . .
Cited – Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza HL 21-Jun-2004
Same Sex Partner Entitled to tenancy Succession
The protected tenant had died. His same-sex partner sought a statutory inheritance of the tenancy.
Held: His appeal succeeded. The Fitzpatrick case referred to the position before the 1998 Act: ‘Discriminatory law undermines the rule of law . .
Cited – Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v M HL 8-Mar-2006
The respondent’s child lived with the estranged father for most of each week. She was obliged to contribute child support. She now lived with a woman, and complained that because her relationship was homosexual, she had been asked to pay more than . .
Cited – Wilkinson v Kitzinger and others FD 31-Jul-2006
The parties had gone through a ceremony of marriage in Columbia, being both women. After the relationship failed, the claimant sought a declaration that the witholding of the recognition of same-sex marriages recoginised in a foreign jurisdiction . .
Cited – Clift, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 13-Dec-2006
The claimants were former serving prisoners who complained that the early release provisions discriminated against them unjustifiably. Each was subject to a deportation requirement, and said that in their cases the control on the time for their . .
Cited – Countryside Alliance and others, Regina (on the Application of) v Attorney General and Another HL 28-Nov-2007
The appellants said that the 2004 Act infringed their rights under articles 8 11 and 14 and Art 1 of protocol 1.
Held: Article 8 protected the right to private and family life. Its purpose was to protect individuals from unjustified intrusion . .
Cited – In re P and Others, (Adoption: Unmarried couple) (Northern Ireland); In re G HL 18-Jun-2008
The applicants complained that as an unmarried couple they had been excluded from consideration as adopters.
Held: Northern Ireland legislation had not moved in the same way as it had for other jurisdictions within the UK. The greater . .
Cited – Hooper and Others, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions HL 5-May-2005
Widowers claimed that, in denying them benefits which would have been payable to widows, the Secretary of State had acted incompatibly with their rights under article 14 read with article 1 of Protocol 1 and article 8 of the ECHR.
Held: The . .
At CA – Steinfeld and Keidan, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for International Development (In Substitution for The Home Secretary and The Education Secretary) SC 27-Jun-2018
The applicants, an heterosexual couple wished to enter into a civil partnership under the 2004 Act, rather than a marriage. They complained that had they been a same sex couple they would have had that choice under the 2013 Act.
Held: The . .
Cited – Human Rights Commission for Judicial Review (Northern Ireland : Abortion) SC 7-Jun-2018
The Commission challenged the compatibility of the NI law relating to banning nearly all abortions with Human Rights Law. It now challenged a decision that it did not have standing to bring the case.
Held: (Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Wilson . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Family, Human Rights
Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.575337