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Jade Quirke
Jade Quirke
Family Solicitor
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From same-sex marriage to equal civil partnerships: on a path towards ‘perfecting’ equality?
Date:4 APR 2018
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Helen Fenwick, Professor of Law at Durham Law School, Durham University

Andy Hayward, Assistant Professor of Law at Durham Law School, Durham University


Keywords: civil partnerships - marriage - Articles 8 and 14 ECHR - Human Rights Act


The full version of this article will appear in Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol 29, No 2

Find out more or request a free 1-week trial of Child and Family Law Quarterly. Please quote: 100482.




This article will consider the progress made towards achieving equality between same and different-sex couples seeking formalisation of their relationships by examining the extent to which the introduction of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage in England and Wales created equality of access to formal relationship statuses, and the benefits thereby accruing. Elimination of discrimination between same and different-sex couples in this context was not achieved, as accepted by the Court of Appeal in Steinfeld and Keidan, which concerned a claim for a civil partnership under Articles 8 and 14 ECHR by a different-sex couple. The article will argue that nevertheless furtherance of equality, rather than dignity-based arguments, provided the driving force for change and that the next step taken towards equality requires the creation of symmetry of access to formalisation of relationships as between same and different-sex couples. The Supreme Court in Steinfeld now has the opportunity of prompting the taking of that step, but this article further argues that recognition of the value of dignity in this context as linked to non-discrimination should shape the response of the government, either to that decision, or to its own ongoing review of the future of civil partnerships.


This article has been accepted for publication in Child and Family Law Quarterly in Issue 2, Vol 30, Year 2018. The final published version of this article will be published and made publicly available here 24 months after its publication date, under a CC-BY-NC licence.

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