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UNITED KINGDOM

Gay Marriage Bid Rejected
 Lesbian couple will now take legal action

 
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■ Peter Tatchell, Rev Sharon Ferguson and Franka Strietzel outside the Greenwich register office today.
photo: Chris Houston/Outrage!

 


LONDON, November 2, 2010    An application by a lesbian couple for a civil marriage licence was today refused by Greenwich register office.  Rev Sharon Ferguson and her partner Franka Strietzel were turned away on the grounds that UK law stipulates that marriage partners have to be male and female.

The couple now plan to challenge this restriction in the courts, arguing that the ban on same-sex marriage violates Articles 14 (protection against discrimination), 12 (the right to marry) and 8 (the right to respect for family life) of the Human Rights Act.

Rev. Ferguson is an ordained minister of religion and chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.  Franka Strietzel is a corporate trainer.

Today’s application for a civil by the couple was the first of four that form part of the new ‘Equal Love’ campaign coordinated by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights organisation OutRage!

There will also be four application by opposite-sex couple for a civil partnership licence.

The Equal Love campaign seeks to end the prohibition on same-sex marriages and opposite-sex civil partnerships.

“We see the Equal Love campaign as a historic quest for justice; morally equivalent to the campaigns to overturn the bans on inter-racial marriage in apartheid South Africa and the Deep South of the USA,” said Mr.Tatchell.

And Rev Ferguson added: “Later this year, we plan to bring a joint legal action with seven other gay and straight couples, in a bid to overturn the twin bans on gay marriages and heterosexual civil partnerships.

“We’re optimistic,” she said.  “Our legal case is winnable.  Equality in civil marriage and civil partnership law is now supported by most of the public and by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green leaders, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Caroline Lucas.

But Rev Ferguson admitted she was a little despondent after today’s rejection.

“Even though we knew we’d be rejected, it hits hard that we’ve been denied the right to get married.

“We were treated very seriously and with great dignity by the register office staff.  They told us they had to follow the law, which prohibits members of the same sex from marrying each other.

“We will now focus on supporting the other couples and pursuing the Equal Love legal case to overturn the ban,” said Rev Ferguson.

Ms. Strietzel added: “Our legal challenge is being organised by one of the world’s leading human rights experts, Professor Robert Wintemute of Kings College London.  We are hopeful that we will eventually win marriage equality.

Professor Wintemute said that there is no longer any justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage and different-sex couples from civil partnership.

“It’s like having separate drinking fountains or beaches for different racial groups, even though the water is the same.  The only function of the twin bans is to mark lesbian and gay people as inferior to heterosexual people.

“By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, and different-sex couples from civil partnership, the UK Government is discriminating on the ground of sexual orientation, contrary to the Human Rights Act," he said.

Rev Ferguson added: “Franka and I have been together for over two years.  We recently started talking about having our commitment to each other recognised.

“No matter how good civil partnerships are with regard to the legal protections and rights they provide, they are still a separate system that was put together to stop gay and lesbian people from being able to marry.

SEE ALSO

Gay Marriage Bid Tomorrow by Lesbian Couple.   A lesbian couple are due to apply tomorrow morning for a civil marriage at the Greenwich Register Office in Woolwich, London as the ‘Equal Love’ campaign gets underway.  The campaign is coordinated by LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and sponsored by the Outrage! organisation.  The couple are Rev. Sharon Ferguson and her partner Franka Strietzel.  They will apply for a civil marriage licence, in a direct challenge to the UK’s legal ban on same-sex marriage.  (UK Gay News, November 1, 2010)

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Posted: 2 November 2010 at 18:00 (UK time)

   
             
       

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