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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Equal Love, Same-Sex Partnerships and Human Rights Law

Although the individual instances have gained some media profile, the overall strategy still appears unnoticed. The Equal Love campaign - launched last month - will result in eight couples filing applications at their local register offices. Four same-sex couples will apply for civil marriages and four heterosexual couples will apply for civil partnerships. Every week until 14 December, one couple will make an application. If the couples are turned away (as the campaign is expecting and banking on) Equal Love plan to take legal action under the Human Rights Act 1998.

Equal Love has stated that their legal team will argue in the courts that the bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships are an unlawful and unjustified discrimination. In a democracy, gay and straight couples should be equal before the law.

It's a thoughtful, clever and strategic campaign. They have their own website which you can view here and see videos/photos of the couples that have already attempted to register for civil partnership/marriages.

Some months ago, I seem to recall a call going out for couple to come forward. Crucially, there was (if my memory serves me rightly) a request that they appear ordinary and 'respectable' - as everyone thus far does.

This quiet, but thoughtful campaign will hopefully begin to bear fruit in the New Year when the relevant parties can commence their legal action. I'm also struck by how much this is a campaign inspired by US legal activism. Rather than seeking to change the law through political activity (although the media element contributes to that), this is a campaign rooted in the court system. It is judges to which they look for reform. Moreover, this is a case designed to get to Strasbourg and I think it may well succeed in getting there. Whether it then achieves the desired result, I'm a little doubtful but you never know and I hope that the campaign does succeed.

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Gary McLachlan said...

I'm torn on this one. While the attempt is worthy and the cause is just I feel that
a) the most recent case is too close in time for a variance of the margin of appreciation to happen yet;
b) given the changes made to composition by the adoption of Protocol 14 I feel that this could fail at the first hurdle under Article 35 (as an abuse of the right of individual application)

 
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