UK couples take marriage and partnership case to Euro court
Eight couples from the United Kingdom mailed a case to the European Court of Human Rights on Feb. 2. Four of the couples are gay and want to get married. Four of the couples are straight and want to enter into a UK civil partnership, which is only available to same-sex couples.
Civil partnerships are identical to marriage in the rights and benefits bestowed. The eight couples all were turned down by officials when they tried to tie the knot.
"The bans on same-sex civil marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid," said activist Peter Tatchell, who is involved in the challenge, dubbed Equal Love. "Two wrongs don't make a right."
The activists' lawyer, Robert Wintemute, said that "banning same-sex marriage and different-sex civil partnerships violates (three separate articles) of the European Convention on Human Rights."
"It's discriminatory and obnoxious, like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same," he said. "The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as socially and legally inferior to heterosexual people."