Straight Bristol couple next to demand a civil partnership

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A heterosexual couple from Bristol will attempt to get a civil partnership tomorrow morning.

Ian Goggin and Kristin Skarsholt say the ban on straight civil partnerships is “unjust, discriminatory and offensive”.

The couple are the fourth of eight gay and straight couples to attempt to register a marriage or civil partnership as part of the Equal Love campaign, organised by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.

Mr Goggin, 21, and Ms Skarsholt, 22, are both students and have been together for two years.

Ms Skarsholt said: “Having both civil marriages and civil partnerships open to everyone is an important part of the struggle for equality. It recognises the universality of love, commitment, stability and security.

“We should all have the right to choose the institution that best reflects our relationship. Segregating gay and straight couples means that people of different sexualities are not being treated equally before the law.”

Mr Goggin added: “We believe in access to civil partnerships for all. The similar Pacte Civil de Solidarité in France is extremely popular, with 95 per cent of those taking it up in 2009 being heterosexual couples.

“A key reason we won’t get married is that we don’t want to take part in an institution that excludes our homosexual friends. We feel a fair society shouldn’t countenance this kind of hurtful sexual orientation discrimination and hope this campaign can go some way towards challenging such discrimination.”

The couple will go to Bristol Register Office tomorrow. After they are rejected, they plan to seek legal advice from Robert Wintemute, Professor of human rights law at Kings College London with a view to pursuing the case in court.

Mr Tatchell, who will join the couple tomorrow, said: “We seek heterosexual equality. In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There should be no legal discrimination. The twin bans on gay civil marriages and on heterosexual civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. There is one law for straight couples and another law for gay partners. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Civil partnerships for gay couples were legalised in 2005 but gay couples cannot marry. Civil partnerships legislation bars straight couples.