Heterosexual couple denied a civil partnership

‘Equal Love’ campaign opposes exclusion of straight couples

Next stage: legal action in the courts in late December

A heterosexual couple, Stephanie Munro and Andrew O’Neill, were refused a civil partnership at Camden Register Office this morning, Wednesday 8 December. The registrar cited the legal ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships as the reason for the refusal.

See these photos of Stephanie and Andrew at Camden register office:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157625430454371/
These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit Brett Lock.

They now plan to commence legal action in the courts, together with seven other couples. This joint legal appeal is scheduled to be launched on 21 December. (more…)

FIFA’s shame, collusion with authoritarian governments

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has slammed FIFA, accusing it of “rewarding tyranny”, after its decision to award the next two football world cups to Russia and Qatar respectively:

“Awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Qatar and Russia is a big mistake. Both countries have poor human rights records. They restrict freedom of expression, the right to protest and press freedom. Journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders are often victimised.

Russia and Qatar also deny equality and human rights to their LGBT citizens.

“Qatar punishes homosexuality with imprisonment and lashes. It treats women as second class citizens. Russia has banned Gay Pride marches for many years and does not protect LGBT people against discrimination in employment and housing.

“Gay players, coaches, referees and fans could be at risk of arrest or violence at the 2018 or 2022 matches. Giving the World Cup to these two harshly homophobic countries is an insult to LGBT people everywhere. It alienates and excludes.

“FIFA has decided that sport should come before human rights. It has rewarded two countries that violate international humanitarian values. This sends the wrong signal.

“Sport should never be allowed to trump human rights. FIFA has put corporate and geo-political interests before the rights and welfare of the people of Russia and Qatar,” said Mr Tatchell.

Heterosexual couple seek civil partnership

Discrimination against straight couples challenged

‘Equal Love’ campaign wants to end sexual orientation discrimination

Wednesday 8 December 2010
10am
Register Office
Camden Town Hall
Judd Street, WC1H 9JE
(off Euston Road, diagonally opposite St Pancras station)

A heterosexual couple, Stephanie Munro and Andrew O’Neill, will challenge the legal ban on straight civil partnerships by filing an application at Camden Register Office this Wednesday 8 December 2010 at 10am.

They are demanding “heterosexual equality.”

The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples is, they say, “unjust, discriminatory and illegal under the Human Rights Act.”

Stephanie Munro and Andrew O’Neill expect to be turned down by the registrar but they plan to get the rejection in writing, with view to taking legal advice and appealing against the refusal in the courts, together with seven other rejected couples. All eight couples will file a joint legal appeal. (more…)

Fourth gay marriage bid rejected

Richard and David will now take legal action

Gay marriage ban violates Human Rights Act, they say

A gay couple’s application for a civil marriage licence was today refused by Greenwich register office in south-east London.

David Watters (40) and Richard Hull (49) were turned away on the grounds that UK law states that marriage partners have to be male and female.

Richard and David now plan to challenge this restriction in the courts, arguing that the ban on same-sex marriage violates the Human Rights Act – specifically Articles 14 (protection against discrimination), 12 (the right to marry) and 8 (the right to respect for family life).

Photos of David and Richard at Greenwich register office:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157625388419615/
These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit Chris Houston (more…)

Gay marriage bid by Richard & David

New attempt to end sexual orientation discrimination

‘Equal Love’ campaign seeks gay marriages & straight civil partnerships

Gay male couple to apply for civil marriage
10.30am, Tuesday 2 December 2010
Greenwich Register Office
Town Hall
Wellington Street
Woolwich, London SE18 6PW

A gay male couple, David Watters and Richard Hull, will apply for a civil marriage licence, in a direct challenge to the UK’s legal ban on same-sex marriage.

If their application is refused, the couple plan to take legal action in the courts (jointly with other rejected couples) to strike down the prohibition on gay marriages. (more…)

Gay marriage bid in Petersfield

‘Equal Love’ campaign seeks gay marriages & straight civil partnerships

Lesbian couple to apply for civil marriage

12.45pm, Tuesday 30 November 2010

Petersfield Registration Office
The Old College, College Street
Petersfield, Hampshire, GU31 4AG

A lesbian couple, Colette French and Katie Green, will apply for a civil marriage licence, in a direct challenge to the UK’s legal ban on same-sex marriage.

If their application is refused, the couple plan to take legal action in the courts to strike down the prohibition on gay marriages.

Katie and Colette’s application will take place at Petersfield Register Office in Hampshire tomorrow, Tuesday 30 November, at 12.45pm.

Colette French (21) is an administrator and Katie Green (21) is a student at of International Relations and Politics at Portsmouth University. Both were born in Portsmouth. They have been together in a relationship for two years.

The couple’s bid is part of the new Equal Love campaign, which is seeking to overturn the twin prohibitions on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

They are the fifth of eight couples to challenge these twin bans, and the third same-sex couple to challenge the ban on gay marriages.

The ‘Equal Love’ campaign is coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!, with the support of the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund.

“A similar ban on black marriages would provoke an outcry. So why should the ban on gay marriages be tolerated?,” queried Equal Love campaign coordinator, Mr Tatchell.

“The outlawing of same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right,” he said.

The Equal Love campaign’s legal advisor is Professor Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

“By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK Government is discriminating on the ground of sexual orientation, contrary to the Human Rights Act. The twin bans violate Article 14 (protection against discrimination), Article 12 (the right to marry) and Article 8 (the right to respect for family life),” said Professor Wintemute.

Explaining their bid for marriage equality, Katie Green said:

“We love each other and want to formalise our relationship. Marriage is the universally recognised system of love and commitment. We want to be part of it, to secure the ultimate recognition of our relationship.

“In a democracy, institutions should reflect society and be open to all. Civil partnerships and civil marriages offer almost the same rights and responsibilities. Therefore it seems the only reason that marriage has a closed door policy towards lesbian and gay couples is to denote their inferior status.

“Segregating gay couples into civil partnerships perpetuates homophobic prejudice and discrimination,” she said.

Her partner Colette French added:

“The ban on gay marriage denies us a democratic right. Not allowing us to register our commitment to each other as a marriage reinforces and promotes inequality.

“Love is equal and should be recognised as such. Failure to open up marriage to all couples sends out the message that lesbian and gay couples are not on par with our heterosexual counterparts.

“I have a lasting commitment to Katie and wish to register this through a civil marriage. I feel that civil partnerships were set up as a second class institution to deny us equality with opposite-sex couples,” she said.

Commenting further on the Equal Love campaign, Peter Tatchell noted:

“We see the Equal Love campaign as a quest for justice; morally equivalent to the campaigns to overturn the bans on inter-racial marriage in apartheid South Africa and the Deep South of the USA.

“In the coming weeks, a total of eight couples will file applications at their local register offices. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. Every week until 14 December, one couple will make an application.

“If they are turned away, as has already happened to four couples, they will launch a joint legal action to end sexual orientation discrimination in civil marriage and civil partnership law.

“Our legal team will argue in the courts that the bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships are unlawful and unjustified discrimination.

“In a democracy, gay and straight couples should be equal before the law. Both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to everyone without discrimination,” he said.

The Equal Love campaign’s legal case is being prepared by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London. He notes:

“The rights attached to civil marriage and civil partnership are identical, especially with regard to adoption of children, donor insemination, and surrogacy. There is no longer any justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and different-sex couples from civil partnership. It’s like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same. The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as inferior to heterosexual people,” said Prof Wintemute.

Mr Tatchell added:

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Denying couples the right to civil marriage and civil partnership on the basis of their sexual orientation is wrong and has to end.

“In a democratic society, we should all be equal before the law. Just as gay couples should be able to marry, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. We want marriage equality in Britain too.

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” noted Mr Tatchell.

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61% of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed.

Heterosexual equality bid by Ian and Kristin

Straight couple will apply for a civil partnership

Discrimination against opposite-sex couples challenged

Tuesday 23 November 2010

11.15am

Register Office

The Old Council House

Corner of Corn Street and Broad Street

Bristol BS1 1JG

A heterosexual couple, Ian Goggin and Kristin Skarsholt, will challenge the legal ban on straight civil partnerships by filing an application at Bristol Register Office this Tuesday, 23 November, at 11.15am.

They are demanding “heterosexual equality.”

The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples is, they say, “unjust, discriminatory and offensive.”

Mr Goggin and Ms Skarsholt expect to be turned down by the registrar but they plan to get the rejection in writing, with view to taking legal advice and appealing against the refusal in the courts. (more…)

UN vote “shameful”

Commenting on the UN vote to remove sexual orientation from the resolution against extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions:

The UN:
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2010/gashc3997.doc.htm

IGLHRC:
http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/pressroom/pressrelease/1257.html

Gay rights and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:

“This is a shameful day in United Nations history. It gives a de facto green light to the on-going murder of LGBT people by homophobic regimes, death squads and vigilantes. They will take comfort from the fact that the UN does not endorse the protection of LGBT people against hate-motivated violence and murder.

“The UN vote is in direct defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees equal treatment, non-discrimination and the right to life. What is the point of the UN if it refuses to uphold its own humanitarian values and declarations?

“This vote is partly the result of a disturbing homophobic alliance between mostly African and Arab states. LGBT people in these countries often suffer severe persecution.

“Many of the nations that voted for this amendment want to ensure that their anti-gay policies are not scrutinised or condemned by the UN. Even if they don’t directly sanction the killing of LGBT people, they have lined up alongside nations that do.

“South Africa and Cuba claim to support LGBT human rights, yet they voted to remove sexual orientation. They can no longer be considered gay-friendly states. Both countries have allied themselves with tyrannical, violent, homophobic regimes. Presidents Raoul Castro and Jacob Zuma should hang their heads in shame. They’ve betrayed the liberation ideals that they profess to uphold,” said Mr Tatchell.

Gay marriage bid rejected

Legal action now planned by Scott & Matthew

Gay marriage ban violates Human Rights Act

‘Equal Love’ campaign seeks gay marriages & straight civil partnerships

A gay couple’s application for a civil marriage licence was today refused by Northampton register office.

Matthew Toresen (48) and Scott Maloney (42) applied for a civil marriage, in a direct challenge to the ban on same-sex marriages.

They were turned away on the grounds that UK law since 1973 stipulates that marriage partners have to be male and female.

Responding to the refusal, Matthew Toresen said:

“We’ve been together for 18 years and love each other very much. We want to get married. It means a lot to us. Although this rejection is hurtful, it is just a temporary setback in the long struggle for marriage equality. Next month, together with other couples, we will bring a joint legal action in the courts to challenge the ban on same-sex marriage.”

Scott Maloney added:

“We’re obviously disappointed but the fight goes on. Next stop the courts. We feel confident that the ban on gay marriage will be overturned. It is against the spirit and letter of the Human Rights Act. We are proud to part of this historic campaign for equal rights.”

See more quotes from Matthew and Scott towards the end of this news release.

Photos of Scott and Matthew at Northampton register office:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157625278931203/

These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit Brett Lock.

The couple’s bid is part of the new Equal Love campaign, which is seeking to overturn the twin prohibitions on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

www.equallove.org.uk

The ‘Equal Love’ campaign is coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!, with the support of the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund.

“Mathew and Scott are the third of eight couples to challenge these twin bans. The first couple, Rev Sharon Ferguson and Franka Strietzel, had their application for a same-sex marriage turned down at Greenwich register office on 2 November. The second couple, Katherine Doyle and Tom Freeman, were refused a heterosexual civil partnership on 9 November at Islington register office,” said Equal Love coordinator Peter Tatchell.

“In the coming weeks, a total of eight couples will file applications at their local register offices. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. One couple will make an application every week until 14 December.

“We expect that all eight couples will be turned away. They will then launch a joint legal action to end sexual orientation discrimination in civil marriage and civil partnership law.

“We see the Equal Love campaign as a historic quest for justice; morally equivalent to the campaigns to overturn the bans on inter-racial marriage in apartheid South Africa and the Deep South of the USA.

“A similar ban on black marriages would provoke an outcry. So why should the ban on gay marriages be tolerated?

“The bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid – one law for gay couples and another law for heterosexual partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right,” said Mr Tatchell.

The Equal Love campaign’s legal advisor is Professor Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at Kings College London.

“By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK Government is discriminating on the ground of sexual orientation, contrary to the Human Rights Act. The twin bans violate Article 14 (protection against discrimination), Article 12 (the right to marry) and Article 8 (the right to respect for family life),” said Professor Wintemute.

“The rights attached to civil marriage and civil partnership are identical, especially with regard to adoption of children, donor insemination, and surrogacy. There is no longer any justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and different-sex couples from civil partnership. It’s like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same. The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as inferior to heterosexual people,” he said.

Explaining their bid for marriage equality, Mathew Toresen said:

“We’ve been together now for over 18 years. Our love for each other is as valid as anybody else’s. We made a decision not to become civil-partnered because we feel that gay marriage is worth fighting for.

“It seems nonsensical to me that my two brothers are married to the women they love but that Scott and I are denied this social legitimacy and celebration.

“If the state is going to offer options about how relationships are recognised, these options must be available to all. The current situation is absolutely discriminatory, and must end,” he said.

Scott Maloney added:

“Language does matter. Marriage is universally understood as a meaningful commitment. People might say that in time civil partnerships will mean exactly the same. We say: ‘Why wait?’ Opinion polls already show that the majority of people in Britain support same-sex marriage.

“It seems to me morally right that we all should have the same compact with the state. As a gay man, I am expected to pay taxes, obey the laws and, if necessary, defend this country like everybody else. In return, I expect the state to treat me equally”

“The fact that we have separate institutions for gay people and straight people creates an artificial divide, rather than acknowledging that commitment and love are universal,” he said.

Commenting further on the Equal Love campaign, Peter Tatchell noted:

“Our legal team will argue in the courts that the bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships are unlawful and unjustified discrimination.

“In a democracy, gay and straight couples should be equal before the law. Both civil marriages and civil partnerships should be open to everyone without discrimination,” he said.

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. We want marriage equality in Britain too.

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” noted Mr Tatchell.

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61% of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed.

Heterosexual couple denied equality

Civil partnership ban defied, but licence refused

‘Equal Love’ campaign opposes exclusion of straight couples

A heterosexual couple, Tom Freeman and Katherine Doyle, were refused a civil partnership at Islington Register Office in London this morning, Tuesday, 9 November. The registrar cited the legal ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships as the reason for the refusal.

Photos of Tom and Katherine at Islington register office:
These photos are free to use, without charge, but please credit Brett Lock.

Commenting on the refusal, Katherine Doyle (26, postgraduate student) said:

“The refusal was expected but it is still very frustrating. We are committed to each other and really want a civil partnership. We don’t like the patriarchal traditions of marriage and don’t want to be called husband and wife. Tom and I see each other as equal partners. That’s why civil partnerships appeal to us. They are more egalitarian and better reflect our relationship,” she said.

Her partner Tom Freeman (26, administrator) added:

“Despite being rejected, we’ll carry on the fight. We are referring the letter of refusal to our legal advisor, Professor Robert Wintemute of Kings College London. Together with other gay and straight couples, later this year we plan to file a joint action in the courts to overturn the twin bans on heterosexual civil partnerships and gay civil marriages. We believe these bans violate Articles 8, 12 and 14 of the Human Rights Act and will be eventually overturned by the courts.

“The denial of civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples perpetuates inequality. It is discriminatory and illegal,” he said.

Tom and Katherine’s application today is part of the new Equal Love campaign, which seeks the repeal of the twin prohibitions on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

The Equal Love campaign is organised by the gay rights group OutRage! and coordinated by the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“We seek heterosexual equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There should be no legal discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Mr Tatchell.

“Denying heterosexual couples the right to have a civil partnership is discriminatory and offensive. We want to see it ended, so that straight couples like Tom and Katherine can have the option of a civil partnership.

“The bans on same-sex civil marriages and on opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. There is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

“We see the Equal Love campaign as a historic quest for justice; morally equivalent to the campaigns to overturn the bans on inter-racial marriage in apartheid South Africa and the Deep South of the USA.

“From 2 November onwards, eight couples will file applications at register offices in London, Northampton, Bristol and Havant. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. One couple will make an application every week until 14 December. Once all the applications have been refused, the eight couples will consult their lawyer and agree a joint legal action.

“Our aim is to secure equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law. We want both systems open to all couples, gay and straight, so that everyone has a free and equal choice.

“Just as gay couples should be able to marry, civil partnerships should be available to straight couples.

“Same-sex marriage is the growing trend all over the world. It exists in Canada, Argentina and South Africa, as well as seven of our European neighbours: Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. We want marriage equality in Britain too.

“Political support for ending the ban on gay marriage is growing. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and former Conservative Party Vice-Chair, Margot James MP, have both come out in favour of allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in a registry office, on the same terms as heterosexual partners.

“This view is also endorsed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.

“Both the Liberal Democrat and the Green party conferences have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the bans on gay civil marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships,” noted Mr Tatchell.

Public attitudes have shifted strongly in favour of allowing gay couples to marry. A Populus opinion poll in June 2009 found that 61% of the public believe that: “Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships.” Only 33% disagreed.

Additional quotes from Tom and Katherine

Katherine Doyle (26, postgraduate student) said:

“We have been together for four and a half years and would like to formalise our relationship. Because we feel alienated from the patriarchal traditions of marriage, we would prefer to have a civil partnership. As a mixed-sex couple, we are banned by law from doing so. By filing an application for civil partnership, we are seeking to challenge this discriminatory law.

“Our decision is also motivated by the fact that we object to the way same-sex couples are prohibited from getting married. If we got married we would be colluding with the segregation that exists in relationship law between gay civil partnerships and straight civil marriages. We don’t want to take advantage of civil marriage when it is an option that is denied to our lesbian and gay friends,” she said.

Tom Freeman (26, administrator) said:

“We want to secure official status for our relationship in a way that supports the call for complete equality and is free of the negative, sexist connotations of marriage.

“We’d prefer a civil partnership. But if we cannot have one, we won’t get married.

“On a point of principle, we’ll remain unmarried until opposite-sex couples can have a civil partnership and same-sex couples can have a civil marriage.

“We are taking this stand against discrimination and in support of legal equality for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

“The ‘separate but equal’ system which segregates couples according to their sexuality is not equal at all. All loving couples should have access to the same institutions, regardless of sexuality,” he said.