UK civil partnership law challenged by same-sex spouses married in Canada

[JURIST] A British lesbian couple married in British Columbia, Canada, in 2003 argued in the High Court [official website] in London Tuesday that their same-sex marriage should be recognized in British law, challenging the Civil Partnership Act 2004 [text] which only accords same-sex couples who legally marry overseas the recognition of a civil union. Complaining that British law automatically recognizes any heterosexual marriage performed in another country, one party to the marriage stated that the incongruent rules for same-sex couples are "profoundly discriminatory."

Lawyers representing Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger [advocacy website] - the lesbian couple challenging the law - are seeking a court declaration validating their marriage under the European Convention of Human Rights [text, PDF] and the UK Human Rights Act [text]. In an interim ruling in April that allowed [text] Wilkinson and Kitzinger's case to continue, presiding judge Sir Marc Potter said:

I consider that there is sufficient material available for an argument based on principle and Commonwealth and US jurisprudence that the requirement of the Civil Partnership Act that a marriage between same-sex partners abroad must, on registration, be treated as a civil partnership and not a marriage, is on the face of it discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation in that, despite the equivalence of the material rights and responsibilities granted by the Act to the rights and the responsibilities of those enjoyed by married couples, the validity and dignity of the ceremony and title of marriage itself is denied to them.
Reuters has more.


 

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