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From same-sex marriage to equal civil partnerships : on a path towards ‘perfecting’ equality?

Fenwick, Helen and Hayward, Andy (2018) 'From same-sex marriage to equal civil partnerships : on a path towards ‘perfecting’ equality?', Child and family law quarterly., 30 (2). pp. 97-120.


This article will consider the progress made towards achieving equality between same- and different-sex couples seeking formalisation of their relationships. It will do so 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 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 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.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:30 March 2018
Date deposited:06 April 2018
Date of first online publication:30 June 2018
Date first made open access:30 June 2020

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