Law and religion round-up – 31st January

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan unsuccessful on opposite-sex civil partnerships, Ofsted’s objections to niqabs, Baroness Cox’s Arbitration and Mediation Bill – and a new blog…

Heterosexual civil partnerships? Not yet

On Friday Andrews J handed down judgment in Steinfeld & Anor v The Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin) (Our first thought was Education?? shurely shome mishtake: however, the Education Secretary also has the equalities brief in her portfolio.) She held that the refusal to allow Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan to register a civil partnership had not violated their Convention rights because it was their own choice “not to avail themselves of the means of state recognition that is open to them. The state has fulfilled its obligations under the Convention by making a means of formal recognition of their relationship available.” Denying them a civil partnership was not, therefore, unlawful state interference with their Article 8 rights [39].

In short, the provisions of the Civil Partnership Act had not become incompatible with Articles 14 and 8 ECHR “just because same-sex couples now have two routes to achieving legal recognition of their relationship by the state and opposite-sex couples continue to only have one. The difference in treatment … does not infringe a personal interest close to the core of the right to family life, still less the right to private life protected by Article 8” [84]. Continue reading