In a hugely significant victory for campaigners Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, and for the rights of couples, yesterday the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the ban on different-sex civil partnerships in the UK is discriminatory.
Following a successful CrowdJustice campaign, in which over £11,000 was raised by hundreds of people for Supreme Court costs, the couple were able to engage many others in their battle for equal rights.
Lorna, one of the CrowdJustice backers who wrote a message of support, gave her reason for being part of this historic moment: “This is so important for equal human rights. My partner and I have cohabited for 30 yrs. We want same legal status as all married couples and same sex partnerships. We support you 100%.”
Working with top civil liberties firm Deighton Pierce Glynn, the couple, who had lost earlier legal challenges at the High Court or the Court of Appeal, were vindicated in their argument that the Civil Partnerships Act is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Supreme Court made a declaration that UK law is incompatible with European law in this regard:
The court ... makes a declaration that sections 1 and 3 of the CPA, to the extent that they preclude a different-sex couple from entering into a civil partnership, are incompatible with article 14 taken in conjunction with article 8 of the ECHR.
In an interview on BBC Woman’s Hour, Steinfeld talked about the reasons that their crowdfunding campaign was successful:
“…we started attracting a lot of attention and public support, and people were writing to us with these very personal and moving stories as to why they wanted to have civil partnerships”.
She went on to say the campaign was about “the 3.3 million couples in this country who are cohabiting”. Talking to BBC News, Ms Steinfeld also argued that the government had “wasted taxpayers' money in fighting what the judges have called a blatant inequality”.
The Equal Civil Partnerships campaign received plaudits for their persistence in the fight for equality. On Twitter, Alastair Campbell offered his congratulations to the “brilliant campaigners”. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, best known for his work with LGBT social movements, tweeted that “the ban on opposite-sex couples was sexuality discrimination and a violation of human rights”.
This historic Supreme Court decision, one that will have an enormous impact on the lives of many couples and on human rights more broadly, couldn't have happened without the determined campaigning of Charles and Rebecca and their legal team, and the CrowdJustice backers who supported them at through the final stage.