Steinfeld and Anor v Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin)

29 JAN 2016
(Queen’s Bench Division, Andrews J, 29 January 2016)

Marriage and divorce – Civil partnership – Heterosexual couple wished to register a civil partnership – Judicial review – Compatibility with Art 8, European Convention

The claimants’ application for judicial review and a declaration of incompatibility with the European Convention of Human Rights of the decision not to permit a heterosexual couple to register a civil partnership was dismissed. 

The man and woman were in a committed long-term relationship and had a child together. They wished to formalise their relationship but both had strong objections to the institute of marriage. Instead, they wished to enter into a civil partnership which they considered better reflected their values and gave due recognition to the equality of their relationship. However, by virtue of s 1 pf the Civil Partnership Act 2004, they were unable to do so as civil partners had to be of the same sex. They issued judicial review proceedings seeking a declaration of incompatibility.

The application was dismissed.

The couple were entitled to obtain equivalent recognition of their status and the same rights and benefits as a same-sex couple. It was only their conscience preventing them from doing so. That had been the case both before and after the enactment of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013. Their views had to be afforded respect, but it was their choice not to avail themselves of the means of State recognition that was open to them. The State had fulfilled its obligations under the European Convention by having made a means of formal recognition of their relationship available.

The denial of a further means of formal recognition which was open to same-sex couples did not amount to unlawful State interference with the claimants' rights to family or private life any more than the denial of marriage to same-sex couples had prior to the enactment of the 2013 Act. There had been no lack of respect afforded to the claimants' private or family life due to their orientation as a heterosexual couple. The statutory restrictions had not impinged upon the core values under Art 8 of the European Convention to the extent that they were enabled to rely upon Art 14 of the Convention. The link between the measures complained of and their right to enjoy their family and private life was a tenuous one. The different treatment was objectively justified and served a legitimate aim.

Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin)
Case No: CO/6008/2014

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL

Date: 29/01/2016

Before :
MRS JUSTICE ANDREWS DBE
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Between :
(1) REBECCA HANNAH STEINFELD
(2) CHARLES ROBIN KEIDAN
Claimants
- and -
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EDUCATION
Defendant
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Ms Karon Monaghan QC (instructed by Deighton Pierce Glynn) for the Claimants
Mr Daniel Squires (instructed by The Government Legal Department) for the Defendant
Hearing dates: 19 and 20 January 2016
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Steinfeld and Anor v Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin)

Approved Judgment
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